Train2Game news: Game developers need to make new IP a franchise from the start say id Software

Train2Game students who go onto work on Triple-A titles will need to be ready to develop whole game franchises. At least that’s the case if id Software Creative Director Tim Willits.

“You need to make a franchise, especially for us. We’re doing everything we can to turn it into a franchise, “please let it sell so we can make another one!” he told GamesIndustry.biz.

And Willits said they needed to make sure the story was deep enough to do this from the start.

“Even from the beginning when we talked about the story and the setting, we said we need to make it rich, we need to have deep environment,”

“We have the comic books that we’ve used to support the game, we have the book we use to support the game, the iPhone – heck, the whole iPhone game was about Bash TV, which is only a ten minute experience in the overall game.” said id Software Creative Director.

He suggests that the RAGE franchise could even expand to include mobile and social games.

“So we definitely, from the get go, planned to make this a much bigger franchise, a much richer world, that allows us to have different games, and we can make more mobile games, heck, we could make a social game with Rage if we wanted to. And hopefully we can make a Rage 2. Hopefully.”

In an his in-depth interview with GI.biz, Willits handed out advice to those looking to get into the games industry: make sure you create things and finish them.

“If you want to make levels, make levels in you spare time, all the time. If you want to be an artist you always have to be drawing. If you want to be a programmer you need to make small apps. You have to have a passion to do it for free if you ever want to really get paid for it.” he said.

It’s very similar to the advice Willits gave Train2Game students about how to get into the games industry in an interview with the Train2Game blog last month.

Interested Train2Game students will be able to use RAGE’s mod tools following its release next month.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Willits comments? Does new IP need to be considered a franchise from its inception? Or can games still be one offs?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: GI.biz]

Train2Game interview: Gaming Charity Special Effect – Part 2

 

Train2Game was at the Eurogamer Expo, and while there we sat down with gaming charity Special Effect. Special Effect is dedicated to helping young people with disabilities enjoy computer games when it may not otherwise be possible.  They use their expertise and adapted technology including eye control in order to make this happen.

In the second part of our two part interview, Special Effect R&D Bill Donegan tells the Train2Game blog how they decide which games to add their tech too, what their biggest challenges are and how you can help them.

Read it below on the Train2Game blog, on the Train2Game Scribd, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio. Part 1 of the interview is available here.

 

How do you decide which games to build eye tech and other technology into, and do you get any help from the developers themselves?

Yeah we’ve had some really good input. For instance, last week someone we’re working with in Dublin on eye control, who before he had his accident he used to play a lot of golf and so we’ve been trying to find a way for him to play golf using the eye control system. Then this developer basically took a game that he’d already made and we asked him if could put some changes in. He basically put in these functions that allowed eye control or any other pointer input to control the game.

It’s not just a case of being able to control a mouse, if you can play with a mouse it doesn’t necessarily mean you can play with eye control, there’s lots of small subtitles. So basically it involves a lot of testing of games and looking at games seeing what might work and then testing it. Or if there’s something like racing games where in general the genre doesn’t use curser controls as input method, we’re trying to think of ways that we could use that and then play the game.

If any indie developers had a game they wanted to allow this technology to be involved with, would you be happy for them to come to Special Effect?

Yes, we offer a free service of helping developers if they want to put our features in. We don’t say ‘You have to put these features n,’ we’re quite happy to look at someone’s game and make some recommendations, and if they feel it’s viable to do that and put them in then we’ll advise them on how they might want to do that. They do that by meeting us in person, or through email.

And what’s been your biggest challenge adding this tech to your projects?

The one that eludes us slightly and what we’re going to test this bit of software with is first person shooters. Because obviously there’s a large amount of controls just to use a cursor movement for.  So that’s the next big thing on the agenda because obviously lots of people want to be able to play that type of game, like Call of Duty, Battlefield. So using one control input such as a cursor to do about twenty different things, that’s the next thing we’re going to look at long term.

And how can developers help you to do that?

Lots of people we work with have different ways of controlling a computer and different abilities, but there are things that can be put into every sort of game that would help a larger amount of people that we work with, be able to play it.

Quite standard features like, for example, lots of people have heard about putting remapping functions into games. Obviously it opens up games for someone who wouldn’t be able to play ordinarily because they use a specialist controller; they can’t reach a certain button so they need to put it to one they can reach. Being able to do that in the game can be the different between being able to play that game and not.

So some things like eye control is obviously a difficult thing to do, but there are certain things like being able to turn off the cursor control in a first person shooter will obviously allow us to move the cursor and do other functions. It’s quite a hard thing to explain but there are things that if we had discussions with them we’d be able to work on I’m sure.

If people want to get involved with helping Special Effect, how do they go about it?

We’ve just launched a Facebook fan page for Special Effect and by liking it you instantly become a ‘Gamer For Good’ and that basically says ‘I support what Special Effect is doing,’ helping people to play video games. From there they can contact us and find out what they can do to help.

There are special edition Special Effect t-shirts on sale here at Eurogamer can you tell us about those?

Yes. So, Insert Coin who did the logo for our Gamers For Good Facebook page and they’re selling them on their stand.  (The Special Effect t-shirts are also available from Insert Coin Tees website.)

They’re really nice guys basically, they’ve been really supportive of us from the start, and all the profits from the t-shirts are coming straight to us which is lovely. We’ve had no outlay from them so everything we get from the t-shirts is profit for us.  It supports the work that we do basically, we’re privately funded, we don’t get government funding, all of our work is supported via donations so it all goes to helping the work we do.

If you know someone who might benefit from the work we do, get in touch: info@specialeffect.org.uk

Thanks for your time

For more information about Special Effect, www.SpecialEffect.org.uk

Train2Game news: Playtesting ‘necessary’ part of game design process say Thatgamecompany

 

Train2Game blog readers may have read our post earlier this week in which Star Wars: The Old Republic project lead James Ohlen said playtesting is a very important part of game development.

Well it seems that he isn’t the only one. Thatgamecompany, the indie studio behind Flower and the upcoming Journey, recently spoke to Gamasutra, with founder Kellee Santiago revealing playtesting is an integral part of their game development

“We are exploring different emotions in game design. If you were to have this emotion of, “I want it to feel joyous but slightly sad,” and you go to an artist, the artist can probably bang out some art in a couple days, some concept art that has those feelings.”

“You go to a composer and you say that, and they can probably do it in half a day, write out a tune that has joyous but slightly sad.” said Santiago.

And while sound and art & animation style can be tested relatively quickly, the Thatgamecompany founder believes that playtesting is the only way to get a good feel of game design concepts.

“You go to a game designer and say, “I want to feel game mechanics that are joyous and slightly sad,” there’s no real defined process for it, other than making something and having other people play it, and finding out if that’s right or not” she said.

“And it’s just a longer process, and it is because it is still so new, I think. Prototyping and playtesting is just so necessary to the craft right now.” Santiago concluded.

Of course, it isn’t only game developers and QA Testers who playtest games, with open beta becoming increasingly popular. As reported by the Train2Game blog, the Battlefield 3 beta begins today, while Valve’s Chet Faliszek also told us that testing is a hugely important part of game development.

So Train2Game, how important do you believe playtesting is to game design?  Will there every be a defined process of testing game design concepts?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: There will always be subscription based MMOs say Star Wars: The Old Republic devs Bioware

Train2Game students may be aware that many MMO titles are switching to a free-to-play model, one wherein revenue is made by microtransactions rather than monthly subscription fees.

However, while many games in the genre are going free-to-play, the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic – scheduled for release in December – is going to stick to the traditional pay monthly model.

And while many developers are switching to free-to-play, SWTOR developers Bioware believe that gamers will always be willing to pay a subscription fee for a quality product.

“I think there will always be a place for premium content at a premium price and that’s one of the differences,” Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk told Industry Gamers.

“Free to play is very much about trial, about ‘Hey, I don’t know what this is, I don’t have confidence that it’s any good, but I’m willing to take a look at it,’ versus ‘I know this is good, from a trusted source, and it’s the biggest license in the world.’ So it’s a different value proposition,” he said.

Fellow Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka believes that increased competition from free-to-play titles is good for the games industry.

“There’s more competition for entertainment dollars now than ever before from social and play for free, and all sorts of entertainment, which I think is actually really healthy from an entertainment industry perspective”

However, he agrees with Zeschuk in that the subscription model will remain popular, but the games have to be worth it.

“But I agree with Greg that there’s a space for a certain number of premium products that are subscription based or whatever the premium pricing model is. But they have to merit it, they have to earn that from a consumer trust perspective and delivering and exceeding expectations.” said Muzyka.

Of course, he believes that Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of these games.

“I think The Old Republic is definitely in that triple-A premium category. That’s the feedback reading from the players and data testing.”

Earlier this week, the Train2Game blog reported on the importance of playtesting in the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

For an in-depth look at the development of SWTOR, read the Train2Game interview with Associate Lead Game Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi

So Train2Game, do you believe the subscription model for MMO still has a future ahead of it? Or will free-to-play titles become the dominant force?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Industry Gamers]

Train2Game interview: Gaming Charity Special Effect – Part 1

 

Train2Game was at the Eurogamer Expo, and while there we sat down for a chat with gaming charity Special Effect. Special Effect is dedicated to helping young people with disabilities enjoy computer games when it may not otherwise be possible.  They use their expertise and adapted technology including eye control in order to make this happen.

In first part of a two part interview, R&D at Special Effect Bill Donegan tells the Train2Game blog about what Special Effect do, how eye control technology works and how they adapt games to use it.

Read it below, on the Train2Game Scribd, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio

Can you tell us a bit about the story of Special Effect please?

Special Effect was set up about four years ago. The main aim was to find ways to help people who’ve got some sort of disability, people who can’t use a computer in a normal way or can’t play video games in a normal way using a mouse, controller or keyboard, and find ways for them to play computer games and do other leisure activities if they can’t use the ordinary ways of controlling a computer.

So today we’re showing ‘eye control’ because we’re doing a world record attempt – to get the biggest eye control tournament ever – which I’m guessing is a new record! So hopefully we’ll make a record at least. And we’re also doing a fastest lap competition of the game we’ve got today, which is Trackmania Nations.

The way we’ve got it to work with the eye controller is we created a little bit of software with a volunteer called Tim Brogden, and that turns the mouse movements from the eye control into keyboard presses for the game.

How do you even begin the process of getting eye control into standard games?

It’s often quite tricky because basically what you’re doing with eye control is moving a cursor around the screen by looking around itin the way we’re using it. Obviously there are certain games you can do that with, by doing a left click for instance by blinking or just dwelling on an area.

Obviously point and click games, a lot of those can be played with this; but then if people want to play other types of games such as racing games, there’s only one to my knowledge that you can play using a mouse pointer. So, we came up with the idea of this software to open up lots of games to more people who use things like eye control or head control and can’t use the keyboard to play the game.

So how does Trackmania Nations work with eye control?

The first thing I’d do is…I’ve just sat down in front of the computer which is going to do a quick calibration. Basically this is just telling the computer it’s a different person to the one that’s just had a go on it.

So, I’m going to look at this target on the screen and then the mouse is flickering everywhere because we’ve changed the sensitivity settings to make it work better with this game.  If you’re using it for a normal computer, you need to put some smoothing on to make it a bit more accurate but for this game it works perfectly well.

It looks like it’s working so I’ll just close the calibration down. That’s the alt controller running so what I do is press – we’re doing it in the physical form but you can put on screen buttons up to start the alt controller – so I’m starting that now. Now as I look around the screen the car will follow where I’m looking.

If I want to turn right I’ll look slightly to the right, if I want to turn left at this corner I’ll look to the left. And then if you look at the track you’ll basically accelerate, so if I look down I’ll come to a stop and then roll back down this hill. But it’s set up so you don’t have to look up at the sky to accelerate, you just look at the track ahead of you.

How difficult was it to bring the eye control tech into Trackmania?

It worked quite nicely. The main reason we chose it was because of the short levels, because for people who aren’t used to it it’s quite good just to do a short burst track and do it a few times. But the actual making the profile with the alt controller was one of the easier parts. Obviously it took some tweaking and we made some changes for the Eurogamer event because people aren’t used to using eye control, but it was fairly OK.

Stay tuned for part two of the Train2Game interview with Special Effect and leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

For more information about Special Effect, www.SpecialEffect.org.uk

For more information about Train2Game, go to www.train2game.com

Train2Game news: Consoles will continue to be the ‘gold standard’

 

Train2Game students will be aware about the huge increase in digital gaming over the last few years, with smartphones, Steam and as seen at the Eurogamer Expo, OnLive, all giving consumers ways of downloading or streaming games.

And as reported by the Train2Game blog, some have even speculated that there will eventually be no place for traditional consoles.

However, retailer GameStop believes that consoles are very much here to stay and for a long while yet.

“We continue to believe that the console is a strong platform and will continue to be the gold standard” GameStop President Tony Bartel told Industry Gamers

And he believes that digital content will become an increasingly important area for consoles.

“People will begin to digitally download first a lot more downloadable content. Eventually, full games will become more relevant to some consumers who want to do that”

“Then we think that streaming will continue to grow. As you get additional bandwidth, we think that it’s going to become more prevalent over time, which is why we’ve invested in it.” Bartel concluded.

The increasing importance of digital to consoles echoes comments made by THQ CEO Brian Farrell. As reported by the Train2Game blog, he believes future consoles won’t use discs and this will only be a good thing for game developers.

Meanwhile, Crytek believe that the games industry isn’t quite ready for an all digital cloud gaming way of working.

So Train2Game, do you believe consoles will always be a part of gaming? Or does the rise of digital mean that they have limited time left in the spotlight?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Industry Gamers]

Train2Game news: Games will match film visuals within a decade say Epic

 

Train2Game students could end up working on games with Hollywood quality graphics in the next ten years. That’s at least if predictions made by Epic Games founder Tim Sweeny come true.

Epic Games are of course on board for the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam in November.

I really see two major milestones coming up for games in the very long-term future.” Sweeny told IGN UK.

“Number one is achieving movie quality graphics and movie quality pixels on the screen, which mean no flicker in the visuals, no popping artefacts, no bulky character outlines on the screen at all.”

“I see that actually occurring over the next ten years” he said.

And the Epic Games founder believes that computers just need the extra power that will come over the next few years in order to achieve this.

“We just haven’t been able to do it because we don’t have enough terra flops or petta flops of computer power to make it so.”

“I expect over the next ten years we’ll a real revolution in that area as we make up this missing gap between where we are today and everything movies are doing” said Sweeny.

“I expect I’ll be actively programming at the time we’ve achieved full movie-quality graphics because that’s really just a matter of brute force computing power and clever algorithm. We know exactly how to do that” he added.

Train2Game students can get a taste of what games could look like in Epic’s impressive Samaritan tech demo produced using Unreal Engine 3, as seen here on the Train2Game blog.

The Epic games founder suggested that Unreal Engine 4 for next-gen consoles will “probably launch around 2014

The other major milestone according to Sweeny is creating proper human characters with emotions in games, and this could be improved over the next ten years, although not to the same extent as graphics.

“Simulation of gameplay characters, artificial intelligence, character dialogue and all of these other things aren’t really problems of brute force computing,” said the Epic co-founder.

“They require increasingly sophisticated algorithms and simulation of human intelligence. I have no idea when those problems will be solved. I’m quite sure they won’t be solved in the next ten years.

“They may not even be solved in my lifetime, but those are all problems that require understanding how the human brain works and trying to simulate that with varying degrees of accuracy”

“We’ve seen very, very little progress in these areas over the past few decades so it leaves me very sceptical about our prospects for breakthroughs in the immediate future.” Sweeny concluded.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Sweeny’s comments? Will we see film quality visuals in the next ten years? And do you think games will ever properly crack artificial intelligence?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: IGN UK via Develop]

Train2Game interview: Valve’s Chet Faliszek on CS:GO

 

Train2Game attended the Eurogamer Expo, and during our time there we had a chat with Valve Software writer Chet Faliszek about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In an in depth interview, Faliszek discusses the reasons for making CS: GO, bringing the PC title to consoles,  the importance of beta testing and much more.

The Valve Software writer also tells the Train2Game blog how important modding can be as part of finding work in the games industry.

Read the interview below, on Train2Game’s Scribd page, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio.

We’re over ten years on from the original Counter-Strike, why is the time right for CS: GO now?

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive started because we were actually originally just going to do a port of Counter-Strike: Source for XBLA. Internally we started playing it a lot and released that ‘Oh, this is a lot of fun’ We forgot how much fun this translates over to the 360 now we’ve got really good at this, so we should make a bigger investment, a full game and expand out what it is.

What are the main Game Design changes that have been made to CS: GO?

One of the cool things with Counter-Strike is it’s been around for so long, that there’s a lot of feedback we can get about what works and what doesn’t work. So we’ve taken a look at 1.6, we’ve taken a look at Counter-Strike: Source, we’ve kind of taken the best of both worlds and we think we’ve created the best version of Counter-Strike.

Which modes will be available in the upcoming game?

We’re going to have the classic bomb planting and hostage and rescue, and were also going to have – again looking back to the community, they had worked on gun game – and so we’re incorporating gun game directly into what we call ‘Arsenal modes.’  We have two of those modes; one is Demolition and that’s about bomb planting and team based Gun Game. And then we also have Arms Race which is the classic Gun Game where every kill you get, you get a new gun and then eventually you get to the knife round.

How difficult has  it been to bring what’s fundamentally a PC game onto consoles?

We don’t really ever look at games that way. As a company, as gamers ourselves, we play on too many different platforms just to think of a game being that anymore. I mean, I play Left4Dead on console as much as I play it on PC, so you know, I think we’ve become accustomed to that.

It’s been fun watching people jump down here and say ‘Oh man, I can’t believe you don’t have keyboard and mouse here,’ and then they play on the PS3 and go ‘Oh yeah, that works pretty well.’

It’s had a good reaction from the hardcore Counter-Strike fans then?

Yeah, actually what’s really funny is at PAX back in Seattle, we were showing it on the 360 and we had a pro-gaming website come in really dissing that we had it on the 360. And they sat down and ran over everybody and they loved it.

Is there a mode for players who might be new to Counter-Strike, but don’t want to get run over by veteran players?

Well actually in all of our modes we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen, but we have the Social Mode which you’re seeing here. You get all the weapons, there’s no friendly fire, all talk is on and it’s a place to have fun with your friends and you’re talking about your girlfriend’s or what you’re talking about on TV while you’re playing the game.

But also there’s also a skill based mode which is all about the skill based matchmaking, so that’ll always make sure you’re having a competitive game without getting owned by someone who’s been playing for  ten years and is tonnes better than you – they’re going to be playing against different people than you will.

You’re giving out beta keys here, how important is that phase in the development of a game?

It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date, because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.

Already we’ve got some positive feedback from some of the pros, but we’re telling the communities it’s not going to be either, it’s going to be something new so let’s play it, let’s give feedback and let’s go from there.

Valve Software has a reputation for hiring modders, is modding therefore a good way for a budding game developer to get noticed?

It’s a really good way for someone to get noticed because it shows that you’re able. Normally modders have to work as a team and that’s important, and they also have to be able to finish something and that’s really important. So those two things together are a really good way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the industry.

What other advice would you give to someone looking to work in the games industry?

Make sure you’re doing something.  Do whatever you’re doing, like we (at Valve) weren’t necessarily writing for games when Gabe (Newell) tapped us, but do whatever you do as well as you can and with a view as to what your eventual goal will be.

Anything else you’d like to add about CS: GO?

We’re going to have the beta starting in October, check it out. We think it’s the best version of Counter-Strike there is, and you can help us make it the best version.

Thanks for your time.

The CS:GO beta begins in October, with a Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC released scheduled for early 2012.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

For more information about Train2Game, go to www.train2game.com

Train2Game news – Valve: modding ‘a really good way’ to get noticed in the games industry

 

Train2Game students should take up modding in order to help demonstrate that they’re ready to work in the games industry. That’s according to Valve Software’s Chet Faliszek who spoke to the Train2Game blog at The Eurogamer Expo.

“It’s a really good way for someone to get noticed because it shows that you’re able” he responded when asked about modding.

“Normally modders have to work as a team and that’s important, and they also have to be able to finish something and that’s really important. So those two things together are a really good way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the industry.”

Valve have a reputation of hiring modders, and as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Team Fortress 2 regularly sees community created items added to the game.

As part of an interview that’ll shortly be published  on the Train2Game blog in full, the Valve writer added  that it’s important to just “make sure you’re doing something.”

“Do whatever you’re doing,” he said.  “Like we (at Valve) weren’t necessarily writing for games when Gabe (Newell) tapped us, but do whatever you do as well as you can and with a view as to what your eventual goal will be”

Faliszek’s comments echo those of id Software’s Tim Willits, who last month also told the Train2Game blog that modding is a great way to get into the industry. Willits himself started his career as a modder.

“Modding is a great way to get into the industry. Most of the key guys at ID come from the mod community – myself, Matt Hooper, Robert Duffy, Jan Paul Van Waveren – and we have numbers of other guys” said the RAGE Creative Director.

“What I suggest to people who want to get in the industry is find their favourite engine – Unreal, Source, it doesn’t matter, id tech – find whatever engine they like, what games they like to play, get the mod tools and make a mod. And make sure they complete it!

“Lots of times we have people who send resumes’ in with 20 half completed mods; we don’t want that, we want a handful of one’s that are actually done, and that’s really important” he added.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Faliszek’s advice? Do you mod? Would you like to take it up?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game students can quiz Batman Arkham City developers Rocksteady at BAFTA this Friday

Train2Game students in London have the chance to attend a very special BAFTA Q&A event about Batman: Arkham City this Friday.

As stated on the BAFTA website, London-based Rocksteady Studios will discuss the making of the hotly anticipated follow-up to Batman: Arkham Asylum, winner of two BAFTAs for Gameplay and Best Game of 2009.

Doors open at 19:30 on Friday 30th September, while the Q&A event itself begins at 20:45.

Full event details are available on the official BAFTA website, while Train2Game students who register in advance can go to what will be a very insightful event for free. Full details on that are here.

The Train2Game blog attended a BAFTA Q&A session   about Duke Nukem Forever with Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software earlier this year. You can read all about it here on the Train2Game blog.

Train2Game students can also get a peek behind the scenes at Rocksteady in this previous article about Game Design in Batman: Arkham City.

So Train2Game, will you attend the BAFTA Batman: Arkham City event? What questions would you ask about the game?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: BAFTA]