Train2Game News: Valve gaming PC in the works

Valve LogoAfter some research Train2Game has found that Valve Software are working on their own proprietary hardware, optimised for gaming.

The recently released Steam Big Picture mode was a first step in this process. The next step is incorporating Linux and making all of that work towards developing a PC package of their own. That means a ready-made PC that comes with Steam and can be hooked up to your television set.

Gabe Newell has shed some more light on his company’s plans. Newell said “I think in general that most customers and most developers are going to find that the PC is a better environment for them because they won’t have to split the world into thinking about ‘why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?’ So in a sense we hopefully are going to unify those environments.

“Certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that’s what some people are really going to want for their living rooms.

“We’ll do it but we also think other people will as well.”

This last sentence indicates that Mr Newell believes this may be the next big move in the games industry. A move like this could truly revitalise living room gaming.

Train2Game News: Steam hits 6 million users

For our friends across the sea, it was Thanksgiving weekend last weekend. This is a time for family, being thankful and apparently Steam.

The digital distribution service from Valve managed to hit over 6 million users. The amount of players peaked at around 11:00 PST Sunday with 6,045,912 users logged on. This was probably due to the Autumn Sale and the waves of numerous major releases such as PlanetSide 2, Assassin’s Creed 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

That is concurrent logins however, not active game sessions—while games define the vanguard of Steam’s excellence, the numbers rise from simply having the program launched and running.

Looking at the Steam Graph Chart of what people are playing shows a fair spread across PC gaming’s most popular genres. Dota 2′s beta boasted a little over 170,000 simultaneous players late on Saturday, while football-sim Football Manager 2013′s surprising strength topped at around 60,000. On Sunday night Black Ops 2 spiked at 51,000 soldiers, and PlanetSide 2′s fight for Auraxia swelled to 30,000 Steam conscripts last night. Lastly, as many as 15,000 stone-faced killers were concurrently shoving sharp metal objects into various people in Assassin’s Creed 3.

It was only in January that Steam hit a then-high of five million concurrent users. To hit six within the same year shows just how popular the service and gaming is getting.

Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 14.11.12

Cliff Bleszinski, better known as CliffyB, has received a mysterious package in a hotel room he is currently staying at. The package contained a phone with a Ubisoft background and one phone number in it. CliffyB told his twitter fans that he would ring the number saying “I do have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me an asset for people like you.”

What started off as a breeding ground for indie titles now seems to be the only form of submission to the digital distribution service, Steam. This is a bold move by Valve as it means not only the bedroom developers but also the big hitters will have to submit their game to Greenlight.

Halo 4 earned $220 million on the day it launched. This isn’t quite as much as Halo 3 or reach but it is still an impressive figure. Microsoft reckons its juggernaut franchise is on track to hit its $300 million global sales target within its first week, thrusting lifetime sales for the Halo franchise passed the $3.38 billion mark.

Of course the other big release lately is Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2. The game is Amazon’s most preordered game ever beating last year’s Modern Warfare 3. Amazon said it “shattered” the previous record. The company wouldn’t reveal any further details on the launch or preorders of Black Ops 2.

Valve president Gabe Newell has has revealed Valve is working on a next generation successor to the Source Engine. Newell also confirmed the Source 2 engine would be completely new, instead of just another update for nearly ten year-old tech. Source made its debut in Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2 in 2004.

Mass Effect 4 will run on DICE’s Frostbite engine, the latest version of which was used in Battlefield 3. There also seems to be a lot of interest in being able to play as different alien races, similar to the style of Dragon Age:Origins.

Train2Game News: Students talking about the Game Jam

This is a video of students talking about Train2Game and the Game Jam from the weekend!


Train2Game News: Mid-week Round up

Train2Game student Fiona Stewart has been featured in The Sun. She talks about how she moved from traditional art to digital art and how it has affected her life. The Sun also featured an article about Daniel Gent, a disabled student of Train2Game who uses a voice activated computer.

Microsoft are bringing Atari’s extensive back catalogue to tablets and browsers. The new portal is called Atari Arcade and it’s opening with eight titles: Asteroids, Combat, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Super Breakout and Yar’s Revenge. The rest of the games are set to be released over the next few months.

343 Industries and Microsoft are releasing eight different pre-order incentives for Halo 4. Depending on where you order the game from you get a different in game item. The in game items include: Different Armour sets, Avatar Items and multi-player Emblems.

Humble Bundle Six has been released. The Humble Bundles are great for picking up some of the top indie games whilst helping charity at the same time. You pay what you want for the bundle but need to pay a minimum amount to get the game Dustforce. Other games included are: Rochard, Shatter, S.P.A.Z, Torchlight and Vessel.

Sony are releasing two new thinner PlayStation 3s. These new consoles are 25% slimmer than the current models and one boasts a 500GB hard drive the other is a 12GB flash memory model but a 250GB hard drive will be available.

Sony are also launching PlayStation Mobile in October. It is a new store for games to be released for mobile devices. An SDK for the store will be released in November opening up a new market for games developers.

Nintendo has come to an agreement with Unity. Developers can use the engine to create games for the Wii U. Unity users will have to pay for a license to develop for the Wii U, just like with the other platforms.

EA will support the very first GaymerCon. The convention is for the LGBT community to come together through their love of gaming. Their website says its purpose is to educate and inform “the gaming community of the presence of sexuality in our digital lives and promoting acceptance and social change through gaming.”

Finally a big congratulations to the winning team at the weekends world record winning Game Jam. RetroMetro won with their game, Royal Rush. I hope you enjoy your prizes and I hope everyone who attended the Game Jam had an excellent time!

Train2Game News: Games distributor Steam blows away Greenlight clutter

Valve is introducing a cost to post games on to its new Greenlight initiative. Valve will donate all money made this way to the charity Child’s Play.

Greenlight is a service for indie developers to upload there games and the Steam community chooses which game they want to see released on the digital distribution service. Child’s Play is a children’s charity created to help young people in hospital, by providing them with games and toys.

Valve has had to implement this fee to dissuade pranksters uploading fake and unapproved games. There have been phoney write ups uploaded to Greenlight and there was controversy yesterday when Steam had to take down a sex game submitted by an amateur developer.

Greenlight went live a few days ago and already 700 titles have been uploaded, making it very difficult to find any hidden gems amongst the fake titles.

Valve said “There is unfortunately a significant amount of noise and clutter being submitted, either as a joke or by fans not fully understanding the purpose of Greenlight,”

“The proceeds will be donated to Child’s Play. We have no interest in making money from this, but we do need to cut down the noise in the system.”

There are mixed feelings to charging for this service. Some believe it defeats the idea of Greenlight but others believe it’s a necessary charge to clean up the service making it easier to find games submitted by serious developers and students.

With the implementation of the fee, which is under £65, it has deterred many of the pranksters.

Train2game News: Valve opens up to hardware in boost for games industry

Valve LogoVALVE is looking for more staff to work on something which could confirm rumours about them moving into computer hardware.

It emerged today that speculation about Valve starting to create hardware appears to be true following adverts for staff on there site. Valve, which makes games such as Half-Life, certainly are no strangers to experimenting with new ventures.

This attitude has led to them creating highly inventive games such as Portal, the versatile Source Engine and the online game platform Steam.

Valve has always been about making things better in the gaming world, whether it’s for gamers or games developers, veteran and student alike. They have always encouraged modding for budding games developers and often employ talented, promising students. Now it seems they want to take it further with creating new hardware for PC, opening up more ideas for games developers.

Valve said: “Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers.

We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though”

“Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.”

What is being created still remains to be seen but there are rumours of a “Steam Box” which could be some sort of console. However, from what Valve says about input methods it sounds like they are looking in to peripherals for PCs.

This is one to watch to see how it develops.

Train2Game news: EA’s Origin has 9.3 million registered users

Train2Game students might be among those using Origin, EA’s digital distribution service, which the publisher claims now has 9.3 million users.

The number would make EA’s Origin about a quarter of the size of rival digital distribution service Steam which has more than 40 million users.  EA also claim that the service has generated $100 million in sales in its first 12 months of operation.

EA are using Origin to generate sales for popular titles such as Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic which aren’t available to purchase or play through rival service Steam. Mass Effect 3 will be an Origin exclusive for those looking to purchase it digitally, unlike the previous two games in the series which were available to buy through Steam.

Capcom, Warner Bros and THQ are among publishers that are backing EA’s Origin, allowing their games to be purchased through the service, while Trion Worlds, CD Projekt RED and Paradox Interactive are also among its supporters.

The Train2Game Blog has previously reported that EA are committed to increasing output for digitally distributed games, and these stats seems to suggest the publisher is moving in the right direction.

For news on digital distribution and downloads, see The Train2Game Blog.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Origin’s stats after a year? Do you use the service?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Develop]

Train2Game news: Obsidian Chief Writer on digital distribution and ‘stabbing the used game market in the heart’

Fallout New Vegas DLCTrain2Game students will be highly aware of the rise of digital distribution, and Obsidian Chief Creative Officer Chris Avellone believes digital is good for game developers and good for the games industry, especially if it can help stop second hand game sales.

Avellone has over 20 years experience of writing and designing RPGs with titles under his belt including Fallout 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2 and most recently, Fallout: New Vegas.

“I love digital distribution. For one thing, being environmentally conscious, I really appreciate that we’re not making more boxes and shipping them and creating all that waste. It’s better just to download the game through Steam and not have to have all that packaging.” he told Industry Gamers.

However, it isn’t just the green factor that Avellone sees as a positive of digitial distribution, he also believes it allows game development studios to be more flexible thanks to not having to rush towards deadlines.

“One of the things I enjoyed with Fallout: New Vegas was that digital distribution of the DLC made things more flexible in terms of getting the content done. You didn’t have to worry about production times for discs, and so you could take an extra week if you needed that to get things right.” said Avellone.

The Fallout: New Vegas writer also added, with some aggression, that digital distribution can kill off second hand games.

“Of course, one of the greatest things about digital distribution is what it does to reduce the used game market. I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart.” he said.

The Train2Game blog has previously reported on the extensive advice the game design veteran has given on getting into the games industry.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Avellone’s comments on digital distribution? Does it help game developers? And will it ‘stab’ the second hand games market?

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

[Source: Industry Gamers]

Train2Game news: Indie devs have “far more opportunities these days” say Team 17

Train2Game students looking to form their own indie studios will certainly be buoyed by this; there are more opportunities than ever to break into the industry thanks to digital distribution.

That’s according to Yorkshire based Worms developer Team 17, who’ve been in the game development business for over 20 years.

“I actually think there are far more opportunities these days overall. If we were only talking about PSN, XBLA and Steam I’d tend to agree, but with the whole mobile and browser side thrown in, it’s bigger and better than the late ’80s.” Team 17 Managing Director Debbie Bestwick told The Guardian when asked if there are comparisons between today’s digital market and the bedroom coding days of the late 1980’s.

And Bestwick believes the rise of mobile gaming, on the iPhone in particular, means it’s actually easier for prospective game developers – such as Train2Game students – to enter the market.

“Digital distribution has removed manufacturing and physical distribution costs; hence the entry point is so much lower these days than back then” she said.

“If anything, the App Store reminds me more of the whole shareware scene in the ’80s, just shaken up and organised, and it is a great place to be.”

And in more good news for Train2Game students, the Team 17 Managing Director is optimistic about the future of the British game industry, “because right now we’ve got more platforms, bigger audiences, more direct to consumer sales channels and lower entry costs than ever before for all indie developers.”

“Our traditional market has changed forever with the introduction of smartphones, social gaming and digital store fronts” added Bestwick.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Bestwick’s comments? Do you believe it’s the best time there’s been to be an indie developer? Is self-publishing a model you can see yourself following?

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

[Source: The Guardian]