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GDC Vault Adds Trio Of Free Strategy Game Sessions

The GDC Vault service has released several new free videos from the Game Developers Conference 2011, this time featuring a collection of strategy game talks covering StarCraft II's e-sport aspirations, a behind-the-scenes look at League of Legends, and a panel examining the future of the strategy genre.

These talks join recently-debuted free videos including GDC 2011's social game developers rant, sessions from successful indie startups and industry veteran Don Daglow, in addition to GDC 2011's classic postmortem series and a slew of other sessions from throughout the history of the Game Developers Conference.

The following video lectures are the newest highlights to be made available for free from GDC 2011:

- When Blizzard set out to create StarCraft II, the studio had to reinvent the rules of one of the most popular competitive games of all time. In "The Game Design of StarCraft II: Designing an E-Sport," lead designer Dustin Browder outlines the obstacles Blizzard had to overcome to make the game suitable for spectating and high-level competitive play.

- Riot Games' Tom Cadwell and Steve Snow discuss the development process behind the studio's hit MOBA title in "League of Legends Postmortem -- Beta, Launch and Beyond." Here, Cadwell and Snow "discuss the three major areas that were particularly challenging: Recruiting a team without a reputation or a product, interacting with an existing audience with large expectations, and organizing teams to be successful amidst the distractions of a live game."

- In "Strategy Games: The Next Move,"
a panel of strategy game experts discuss rising trends, overlooked
innovations, and the overall trajectory of the strategy game genre.
Speakers including writer Tom Chick, Civilization veteran Soren Johnson, Civilization 5
lead designer Jon Shafer, Robot Entertainment's Ian Fischer, and
Blizzard's Dustin Browder discuss the implications of free-to-play,
online persistence, and more to offer insight on where strategy games
are headed.

GDC 2012: Young, Selfon, Tallarico On Goals For Game Audio

To help inspire submissions for the GDC 2012 call for papers, the event's advisory board members for the Audio track spoke out on the challenges facing modern audio professionals, and outlined what they hope to see at the upcoming March 2012 San Francisco-based event.

Seasoned industry professionals such as Media Molecule's Kenneth Young, HUGEsound.com's Chance Thomas, Microsoft's Scott Selfon, Brian Schmidt Studios' titular Brian Schmidt, and Video Games Live/Game Audio Network Guild founder Tommy Tallarico all discussed the most significant accomplishments, challenges, and trends facing audio production as part of their drive to encourage submission ideas for the GDC 2012 Main Conference.

As GDC advisory board members, these industry veterans oversee the show's Audio track and ensure that each of its sessions remain relevant and hold up the high bar of quality that GDC attendees have come to expect.

The call for papers for GDC 2012 will close on September 6, with a list of audio-specific topics available on the official website. In the following interview, the advisory board members discuss key issues they'd like to see addressed at next March's show.

What do audio professionals have to keep in mind when working on titles for the web or mobile devices? How do these platforms influence the use of audio?

Kenneth Young: Download size and available storage space certainly have a big impact on the approach -- for example, you don't have the liberty of throwing an abundance of streaming music, ambiences or voice assets at the project. On the positive side, such limitations force the developer to really consider whether wallpapering their game with music or thousands of lines of clunky, information-heavy and exposition-heavy dialogue is a good idea. Here's my obligatory Angry Birds example -- it only uses music when it is needed, in the menu and as a payoff upon level completion.

Chance Thomas: You need to remember the range of device capabilities. The mobile marketplace has a wide array of devices and capabilities, and today's audio pro needs to understand this range. For instance, a game developed for the hypothetical iPhone 5 will be sold at the same app store that old G3 users are still buying from.

Therefore, today's games still have to sound good on the minimum spec platform. For example, a cool interactive music design that works great on the iPad 2 using let's say, three stereo streams, is useless on earlier phones with only a single music stream available. It's important that audio designs still do the game justice on the minimum spec platform.

Brian Schmidt: The style of game you'll do for a mobile is most often very different from a console or PC title, as Kenny alludes to. You don't need the big choir-orchestra so much as tasty simple bits to complement the game.

In addition to download size, for web-based games, sometimes the developer is extremely concerned with "time to play" -- that is, from the time the user clicks on the game icon, they want to start playing the game within seconds. A game that requires lengthy downloads won't hold the user's attention, and they'll click and go do something else rather than wait even 60 seconds for a download or install.

A phone or web game will have a far smaller team and you will probably be the only audio person, so if you're a composer, get used to doing sound effects -- and not hacky, crappy ones! SFX is probably more important than music in many of these games. The SFX for these gmaes are much more likely to be abstract -- or non-diegetic -- than on consoles, so get good at knowing how to inform the player with sound without annoying them.

GDC Online Reveals New Narrative Summit Talks, Alumni Reg. Ends Today

GDC Online has revealed a new batch of talks for the show's Game Narrative Summit, featuring a roundtable with Valve's top writers, a look at how BioWare balances storytelling and design, and a Telltale lecture on crafting an authorial voice.

Taking place Monday, October 10 through Thursday, October 13, 2011 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, GDC Online continues as the leading worldwide event dedicated solely to discussing the development and business trends surrounding connected games -- including casual titles, MMOs, virtual worlds, and social networking games.

Now in its sixth year, the co-located Game Narrative Summit -- formerly the Game Writers Conference -- once again returns to GDC Online to showcase leading speakers on the many facets of interactive storytelling, with sessions ranging from roundtable discussions to postmortems and more.

The latest sessions and lectures featured in the two-day Game Narrative Summit include the following:

- In "Just Go: A Roundtable Q&A with Valve's Writers," attendees will get a rare chance to sit down with writers Erik Wolpaw, Marc Laidlaw, Chet Faliszek, and Jay Pinkerton in a no-rules discussion of Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, the past and future of the Half-Life series, and much more.

Here, all attendees will sit in a collective roundtable with the session hosts, so seating will be limited to only 50 people -- make sure to arrive early!

- BioWare Austin's senior world designer Wynne McLaughlin, world designer Blake Rebouche, and senior writer Hall Hood will host a panel dubbed, "Building a Bridge Between Design and Writing," outlining how the Star Wars: The Old Republic developers find synergy between two very specialized realms of game creation. The hosts will explain the core conflict that often pits game writers against designers, and will provide insight on how to reconcile these differences.

Tales From The GDC Vault: 'That Big Moment'

[In the latest installment of "Tales from the GDC Vault", digital historian Jason Scott debuts free video of major keynotes introducing the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and Xbox (via Bill Gates) to the world at Game Developers Conference.]

I'd argue that there are few bigger moments in the game industry, and perhaps in almost any industry, than the introduction of a new console. It's certainly one of the most expensive undertakings these companies will endure, requiring years of design and fabrication and meticulous planning.

If you did it all right, and luck falls in with you, and the right software houses get behind you, then success will come fast and free -- you'll have to construct additional buildings just to hold all the money.

But if you misstep, fail to have the right "kind" of titles or the killer launch games waiting alongside your console, then financial ruin and misery await you -- wounded, your company may not recover for years.

In this most stressful of times that a CEO may encounter, comes the tradition of the keynote speech, the time when you will step on stage, welcome everyone, talk of freedom and power and ability and dreams, and then point to the console mockup or system that you are going to drop on the world by (hopefully) the millions.

Any missed cues, or onstage crash, and the rags will be buzzing about it the next day. One solid, amazing demo, and you'll be the toast of the forums and the hallways of GDC. Like I said... it's as intense as it could possibly get.

With that in mind, I've digitized from BetaSP tape, specially for GDC Vault, not one but three keynote speeches given at GDC over a decade ago, introducing (or re-introducing) a new hardware console to the world. We now know who came ahead, who fell behind, and what tricks and triumphs these machines had in store, but it's very enlightening to look back with this knowledge at the offerings and statements in these presentations.

GDC Europe 2011 Reminds On Registration Deadline, Details Events

With just a day left to register online for next week's GDC Europe event, organizers have chosen to highlight the various events and parties that will take place during and after the Cologne show.

These social events are hosted by some of the show's sponsors, and serve as a great opportunity to relax after the conference and get to know other industry professionals and developers.

A GDC Europe pass is required to get in to each of these parties, so make sure to register online while there's still time. Once online registration closes, passes will be available only via on-site registration, which opens Sunday, August 14 at 3:00PM.

The following are some of the biggest sponsored events open to GDC Europe attendees:

- On Monday, August 15 at 8:00PM, Crytek will host its very own Crytek GDC Night, offering a venue for show attendees to relax, chat, and network with game developers from around the world. The event will take place at Rheinterrassen, Rheinparkweg 1, 50679 Cologne and is open to all GDC Europe pass holders.

- On Tuesday, August 16 at 6:30PM, Glu Mobile will sponsor the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit Mixer, an event that ties in with the titular GDC Europe Summit. Here, pass holders can drink, mingle, and meet other industry professionals involved or interested in mobile and tablet-based games. The event will take place on the Expo Floor at the Congress-Centrum OST Koelnmesse.

- At 9:00PM that same evening, pass holders can head over to the Diamonds Club at Hohenzollernring 90, 50672 Cologne for the GDC Indie Party. Here, badge holders can dance, have drinks, and chat with fellow developers, students, and high-level professionals from throughout the industry. Attendees will also get a taste of Europe's nightlife with a live act by Sound of Games.

For more information on any of these events, please visit the official GDC Europe events section.

GDC China Honors Winners Of Shanghai, Beijing Game Jams

Organizers are proud to highlight the winners of the IGF China-sponsored Shanghai and Beijing Game Jams, both of which invited attendees to test their game design skills in a two-day marathon of collaboration and creative experimentation.

Held last month, these two China-based events invited professionals, indie developers, and even hobbyists to form teams and create a working game prototype from scratch, using only their own tools and tech.

To add a twist to the traditional game jam formula, each event also had its own theme around which entrants had to build their games -- the Shanghai Game Jam's topic was "Resurrection," while the Beijing event's topic was "Utopia."

In addition, the events encouraged entrants to meet other developers and work with new team members, and GDC China - part of UBM TechWeb, as is this website - awarded Tutorials & Summits Passes to the outstanding teams.

The following are the winning entries from both the Shanghai and Beijing Game Jams:

Shanghai Game Jam Winners
Topic: "Resurrection"

1st prize: The End is Nigh
endisnigh.jpg
As a frustrated soul left behind in the Rapture, players must try to prevent their neighbors from ascending into heaven, either by dragging them down or simply shooting them with a gun.

2nd Prize: Bud
bud.jpg
In this title, players control seeds that sprout and grow, bringing new life into a landscape torn apart by war, industry, and death.

GDC Europe Unveils Keynote From Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow Director Enric Alvarez

GDC Europe has announced a new keynote from Mercury Steam founder Enric Alvarez, who will reflect on the development of the studio's recent action title Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

Alvarez will join other speakers such as Epic's Mike Capps, Ultima creator Richard Garriott and Wooga founder Jens Begemann as the fourth keynote speaker to be announced for GDC Europe. This year, the event will take place August 15-17, and is located in Cologne, Germany alongside gamescom, the leading European trade and consumer show.

The keynote, titled, "Postmortem: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - How To Succeed And Not Die Trying," will provide an in-depth look at how the Spanish developer Mercury Steam took the reins of one of gaming's most classic franchises.

In addition, Alvarez will also delve into the origin of the project, how Mercury Steam handled its relationship with a Japanese publisher, as well as what went right and wrong throughout the course of the project.

Prior to working on Lords of Shadow, Alvarez and the rest of Mercury Steam worked on projects such as Codemasters' Clive Barker's Jericho, and the American McGee-designed game Scrapland

Following the production of these titles, Alvarez began co-writing and directing Lords of Shadow, a game that eventually set a new milestone for project scope and size in the Spanish development community. The game also had the support of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, who served as the title's project advisor. Alvarez will elaborate on this relationship and more in his upcoming keynote.

PopCap Co-Founder Vechey To Keynote GDC Online 2011

GDC Online has announced that PopCap co-founder John Vechey will give a keynote at the upcoming October show in Austin, Texas, where he will discuss how the Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies developer is adapting its popular single-player games to social platforms.

The keynote, titled, "Playing Well With Others - How PopCap Creates Compelling Social Game Experiences," will provide GDC Online attendees with an inside look at how mobile and social games have influenced the design philosophy of the extremely successful casual game studio.

Vechey launched PopCap in 2000 with co-founders Brian Fiete and Jason Kapalka, and has been instrumental in driving nearly every aspect of the company's operations. As interim CEO of PopCap until 2003, Vechey oversaw all aspects of the company's Web presence while directing e-commerce, privacy/security and online games services.

Vechey's major contributions at PopCap include securing some of the company's largest partnerships with major Web portals and game publishers, helping to launch the immensely popular title Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook, which went from zero to 25 million users in its first twelve months, and establishing PopCap as a major player in the social games business.

Currently the VP of Internal Business Development, Vechey manages PopCap's strategic investments and acquisitions, and helps shape and guide the global business and product strategy.

GDC 2012: Castle, Fryer, Fergusson On Industry's Top Production Issues

To help inspire submissions for the GDC 2012 call for papers, the event's advisory board members for the Production track spoke out on the challenges facing modern producers, and outlined what they hope to see discussed at the upcoming San Francisco-based show.

Seasoned industry professionals such as Zynga's Louis Castle, WB Games' Laura Fryer (Lord Of The Rings: War In The North), Media Molecule's Siobhan Reddy (LittleBigPlanet), and Epic's Rod Fergusson (Gears Of War) all discussed the most critical elements of contemporary game production as part of their drive to inspire submission ideas for the GDC 2012 Main Conference.

These GDC advisory board members oversee the show's Production track, and ensure that each of its sessions remain relevant and hold up the high bar of quality that GDC attendees have come to expect.

The call for papers for GDC 2012 will close on September 6, with a list of production-specific topics available on the official website. In the following interview, the advisory board members discuss key issues they'd like to see addressed at next March's show.

How does a producer's job vary between large and small development teams?

Louis Castle: Small team producers literally do anything and everything that is not being done by a team member. Bigger teams offer specialization and very big teams demand specialization. This usually manifests itself in more creative control and responsibility with small teams, but also requires extraordinary individuals to achieve world-class results.

Laura Fryer: I agree with Louis. The primary role of the producer on both is to serve and support the team. For both they need to be great communicators, but in larger teams, communication is more challenging since your bandwidth per person naturally goes down as you add people. With a small team you are probably sitting close to everyone and can talk to them multiple times a day, whereas on larger teams that's not usually possible.

Siobhan Reddy: I certainly agree with Louis and Laura. At a small studio, it's very important to know your limits and when to hire in experts for areas you aren't so great at -- especially QA, HR, finance, IT. Small implies cheaper, which means you can take advantage of being a more experimental or innovative. Being large implies a higher burn rate, so your approach to experimentation would be different.

Rod Fergusson: Everyone has made great points so to try and add another aspect to this is the idea of managing staff. Most teams I've been on have been "all of the responsibility but none of the authority" types where it's a matrix and no one directly reports to you.

Even in that structure though, as the team grows your job will change, as you need to have supporting producers and associate producers reporting to you to be able to keep up with the team. I don't think you can assume that because a person can manage a project that they can be responsible for the growth of the people that report to them.

It's another skill in the toolbox, as Laura likes to say, and it means you're not just focusing on shipping. You have to think longer term for the people that report to you so that you can plan their development beyond just this ship cycle.

GDC Vault Adds Free Social Game Rant, Indie Startup, Daglow Sessions

The GDC Vault service has released several new free videos from the Game Developers Conference 2011, this time featuring rants from the industry's top social game developers, a panel on successful indie startups, and career lessons from industry vet Don Daglow.

These talks join recently-debuted free videos including GDC 2011's Game Design Challenge, indie sessions on Osmos and Super Meat Boy, GDC 2011's classic postmortem series, and a slew of other sessions from throughout the history of the Game Developers Conference.

The following video lectures are the newest highlights to be made available for free from GDC 2011:

- The first talk offered for free is the high-energy social game panel, "No Freaking Respect! Social Game Developers Rant Back." This session, co-hosted by Eric Zimmerman and Jason Della Rocca, features a handful of the most outspoken and influential social game developers out there, with each focusing on a topic of their choosing.

The talk includes developers such as Cow Clicker's Ian Bogost, Loot Drop's Brenda Brathwaite, and more as they cover pressing issues facing the occasionally stigmatized realm of social game development.

- The next session, dubbed "From AAA to Indie: Three Start-Up Stories," showcases three recent success stories from developers who jumped from big-budget, AAA development into the indie space.

Jake Kazdal of Skull of the Shogun developer Haunted Temple, Spry Fox's Daniel Cook (Triple Town), and AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! creator Ichiro Lambe all look back upon their careers in traditional development, and provide an inside look on how they transitioned into the indie space.

GDC Europe 2011 Reveals Crytek Keynote, Ninja Theory, Boyer Talks

This month's GDC Europe has debuted a new track keynote from Crytek's Cevat Yerli, as well as talks from Ninja Theory on performance capture, plus the IGF's Brandon Boyer on how indies will drive the future.

Taking place Monday through Wednesday, August 15-17, 2011 at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost, Germany, alongside the major gamescom trade show, GDC Europe will again provide the essential pan-European perspective of game development and business trends.

The new highlights from the Main Conference, which features tracks on Business & Marketing, Game Design, Production, Programming and Visual Arts, include the following:

- Crytek president and CEO Cevat Yerli will give a track keynote in the conference's Game Design track titled, "An Old Horse Learning New Tricks - From AAA Retail to AAA Online." Here, Yerli will examine Crytek's history as a traditional, retail game developer and its experience transitioning to the online space with its upcoming shooter Warface.

Looking back at the company's previous retail offerings such as FarCry and Crysis, Yerli's keynote will also outline the biggest challenges Crytek faced when adapting to online game development, noting the "insurmountable differences" that forced the studio to learn new approaches to game production.

- Also in the Game Design track, UK-based Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades will offer a in-depth look at cut scene production in, "Performance Capture: A Creative Primer." This talk will detail how Ninja Theory cooperated with movie studios such as Weta Digital (Lord of the Rings), actor Andy Serkis, and numerous other movie professionals to create believable, high-fidelity scenes in titles such as Enslaved and Capcom's DmC: Devil May Cry.

GDC Online 2011 Reveals Dragon Age Legends, Super Hero Squad, Kabam Sessions

GDC Online has revealed a new batch of sessions for the upcoming October show, this week featuring a look at EA's social game Dragon Age Legends, a postmortem on Super Hero Squad Online, and a glimpse at Kabam's analytical approach to production.

Taking place Monday, October 10 through Thursday, October 13, 2011 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, GDC Online continues as the leading worldwide event dedicated solely to discussing the development and business trends surrounding connected games -- including casual titles, MMOs, virtual worlds, and social networking games.

This year's Main Conference will include tracks on Business & Marketing, Customer Experience, Design, Production, and Programming, as well as a sponsored track on Monetization.

As seen in the event's Schedule Builder, the following lectures are highlights from this year's Main Conference:

- In the Business & Marketing track, Ethan Levy of Electronic Arts will host, "Dragon Age Legends' Road to 100k Likes," a talk outlining the successes and failures of the marketing strategy for the company's social game spinoff.

In this metrics-driven session, Levy will point to Dragon Age Legends' MMO-like beta program, its fully animated trailer, and more to explain why the title was "a game of firsts in the social gaming space."

- Over in the Production track, The Amazing Society co-founders Jay Minn and Jason Robar will reflect on their recently launched Marvel MMO in, "Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Postmortem- An MMO For the Whole Family in Under Two Years." In this lighthearted session, the pair will look back on their experience working with Marvel, developing in Unity, monetizing game content, and much more, offering an inside look at the production of their kid-friendly online game.

GDC Europe Speaker Spotlight: VandenBerghe On Embracing Established IP

In the latest in a series of interviews with speakers from this August's GDC Europe, Ubisoft creative director Jason VandenBerghe discussed how he maintains his creative drive when working on someone else's game concept, noting why all developers should "become a fan" of their IP to stay passionate about their work.

VandenBerghe has been in game development for over 16 years, and much of his career has been spent making games based on popular movie licenses including James Bond (007: Everything Or Nothing), Lord of the Rings (Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age), and X-Men.

During his time working on these well-known franchises, VandenBerghe (Red Steel 2) learned to stay passionate and enthusiastic about his projects, even when a powerful brand offered his team little control over a game's creative direction.

With GDC Europe almost upon us, VandenBerghe teased his upcoming talk, "The Magic Gun: Surviving IP Development Through Embracing Your Constraints," diving in to his approach on IP-based development, and providing tips for making games based on popular licenses.

What do you do to maintain your creative drive when working on an established franchise?

For me, it came easy. I grew up sitting around with my D&D buddies talking about what our own Alien film would be like, or playing through a Traveller campaign based on The Terminator, and even in these early experiments, we were nailing the tone of our beloved franchises.

It was only later, when I came into the industry, that I realized that this was something that was even an issue for people. Working on the James Bond franchise, I was stunned by how many people wanted to utterly change the very nature of that character, simply to suit their personal creative tastes. While I could understand the drive to create, doesn't James Bond deserve to be James Bond?

So, I developed the "Magic Gun": a way of thinking about what I think of as "other people's ideas" that could help my teams re-orient their thinking. It's easy to learn... but extraordinarily difficult to master.

The Magic Gun is this: Learn your constraints, and then embrace them. Simple -- yet so hard to do.

Learning is actually the easiest part: I find experts on the IP I am working on, and I interrogate them mercilessly. It's the embracing part that is truly hard. To succeed as a designer, I must learn to love my IP for the same reasons that the fans of that IP do. Truly, unreservedly, I must become a fan. Then, the real work can begin.

What are some titles you've worked on that most challenged your creative control? Why were these titles particularly challenging to work on?

Few franchises can rival the Bond franchise for challenges related to creative control. James Bond is a $3 billion+ annual industry without the games, and if you think that those guys are going to let you kill the golden goose by incorrectly re-interpreting their character, you got another thing coming.

Strangely, though, the fans of James Bond are almost harder to deal with. Not individually, mind you, but as a group. Ask yourself this: have you ever met anyone in your life who doesn't have an opinion about James Bond?

Chances are, you haven't. That applies to your team as well. And everyone's vision of Bond is just a little bit different.

Getting everyone to see the same creative vision is hard enough. Getting everyone to see the same creative vision when that vision is different from the strongly held, personal vision in their mind? Nearly impossible.

GDC 2012: Perry, Castle, Yu On Business Trends To Watch For

To help inspire submissions for the GDC 2012 call for papers, the event's advisory board members for the Business & Marketing track spoke out on the rising business trends in the industry, outlining what they hope to see discussed at the upcoming San Francisco-based show.

Seasoned industry professionals such as Gaikai's David Perry, independent developer Adam Saltsman, Zynga's Louis Castle, Gazillion's Dan Fiden, and Ngmoco's Alan Yu all discussed the most pertinent business strategies of the last few years, as part of their drive to inspire submission ideas for the GDC 2012 Main Conference.

These GDC advisory board members oversee the show's Business, Marketing & Management track, and ensure that each of its sessions remain relevant and hold up the high bar of quality that GDC attendees have come to expect.

The call for papers for GDC 2012 will close on September 6, with a list of business and marketing-specific topics available on the official website. In the following interview, the advisory board members discuss key business issues they'd like to see addressed at next March's show.

How do you all think downloadable and free-to-play titles have affected the business strategies for traditional, boxed retail games?

David Perry: At the start, there was a lot of resistance to free-to-play. I put a lot of energy into trying to be the first free-to-play console game and was met with enormous resistance. I even remember comments saying not to interview me anymore, as this entire concept is horrible. In reality, times have moved on, Zynga is worth billions of dollars, free-to-play is no longer just an Asian phenomenon, and publishers are open to all business models.

Looking around, it's as if the video game industry, including mobile, is driven by three things in this order: Convenience, low price (Free to try), and high quality -- if you have all three you have a slam dunk. The X factor is how easy you make it to share. Boxed retail games fail on two out of three key drivers -- convenience and low price -- therefore they are ticking time bombs.

Adam Saltsman: Free-to-play is a kind of a marketing coup. The name, I mean, not the actual concept. The main difference between "free for the first month" and "free for five minutes a day" is the latter is proven to make scads of money for social games.

Part of me is worried that box games are in the process of getting renamed and re-monetized the same way: "super deluxe special edition tin box with army helmet and real gun, only $250!" But the other part of me is really happy, because I know there will always be a free demo for the next big AAA game that I can download and check out, instead of having to take the big $60 (or $250!) gamble every time.

And there is a happy possible future where games are simply priced based on how you engage them. If you just want to play through the first chapter of a game and see what the controls and graphics are like, that will have one price (maybe free). If you want to pore over the whole game for 200 hours, then that can be a different price. This makes sense for people and for bandwidth I think, but there are a lot of opportunities for the system to be manipulated to work against the audience. This is going to be an interesting few years for any industry that used to sell chunks of data in a box.

Louis Castle: All digital entertainment is trending toward three things: sharable, free-to-sample, and pay for consumption. Boxed games are struggling with the same market forces that have been thrust upon the music industry and now film. There may be some long-term market for physical goods, but it is unlikely to be the primary market it is today.

How soon this industry will be forced to accept the change will depend on how long console makers will hold on to the current model. The market forces have little to no effect if you are one of the major franchises, but everyone else is already having to deal with the difficulties of getting players to pay when free options are readily available.

Game Developers Choice Online Awards Honor Kesmai Founders, SOE's EverQuest

Organizers of GDC Online have revealed that the 2011 Online Game Legend Award at the second annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards will go to John Taylor and Kelton Flinn, the founders of Kesmai Corporation, and the creators of seminal, inspirational early online games including Island of Kesmai and Air Warrior.

In addition, the second persistent online game to be inducted into the Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame will be Sony Online Entertainment's beloved fantasy game EverQuest, a still-operating title which was one of the most important early 3D MMO titles. Both recipients will be honored during the Choice Online Awards ceremony, taking place October 12, 2011 at GDC Online in Austin.

The special awards are a celebration of the iconic developers and games that have had terrific influence in shaping the now massive online games category. Honorees were selected through open nominations from the online game community and the distinguished GDC Online Advisory Board.

The board includes game industry veterans, leaders and luminaries such as Zynga Austin's John Blakely, Blizzard Entertainment's J. Allen Brack, BioWare Mythic's Eugene Evans, Playdom's Raph Koster, Nexon's Min Kim, and Riot Games' Brandon Beck.

This year's Online Game Legend award will be presented to the creators of Island of Kesmai, John Taylor and Kelton Flinn. The GDC Online organizers chose these two recipients in recognition of their achievements as game creators who have made a permanent impact on the craft of developing online games -- and for having provided a launch pad for many other accomplished developers' careers for nearly 20 years.

Flinn started writing multiplayer games while a college student, competing then collaborating with Taylor. This work was characterized by the CompuServe-hosted MUD Island of Kesmai, which they wrote following graduate school in the early 1980s. In the ASCII-based world of Island of Kesmai, real-time text communication between players -- while solving dungeon quests and participating in combat -- was a major influence on many of the online games to come.

 

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