Train2Game News: Etoo coming to London

EtooNot making it to E3 this year? Fear not: London will be getting its own indie gaming alternative, which will coincide with the major LA-based gaming convention.

Taking place at the Loading Bar in Soho from June 10 – 13, the brilliantly named, EToo will feature over 30 game developers showing off their latest projects on big screen TVs around the venue. The event is being sponsored by PlayStation, with GameStick, the forthcoming Android console from British tech company PlayJam, as a partner sponsor.

Developers set to show off new titles at the event include New Star Games (with an unseen new build of New Star Soccer!), Hello Games (Joe Danger), Mediatonic (showing forthcoming title, Foul Play), Nyamyam Games (Tengami), Big Robot (Sir You Are Being Hunted), Simon Roth (Maia), Tom Francis (Gunpoint), Tiniest Shark (Redshirt), Alistair Aitcheson (Slamjet Stadium), Curves Studios and Projector Games (Fortress Craft). Capcom will also be in attendance, running playable demos of Lost Planet 3 and the new HD version of classic platformer Duck Tales. More mainstream publishers are to be announced.

As headline sponsor, PlayStation will be in attendance, with Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us playable, as well as innovative platform adventure Rain and perhaps some surprise extras. David Wilson, Head of PR for PlayStation UK said, “PlayStation is pretty excited about EToo. As well as giving attendees the chance to witness our E3 conference live, there’ll be loads of time to get hands on with a range of awesome games from the blockbuster, The Last Of Us, to the small but beautifully formed Rain”

PlayJam will be showing off its innovative Android console, GameStick, set for launch in July. Sameer R. Baroova, head of games at PlayJam commented, “What better way to celebrate the most exciting week in gaming than to spend it playing awesome games, meeting developers and gamers, and discussing all things gaming. We are  excited to show off GameStick at EToo, and are very glad to be a part of it. Cheers to Keith and Georg for putting this together.”

“This started off with me sulking on Twitter about not being able to go to E3,” says co-organiser Keith Stuart, the games commissioning editor at The Guardian. “Game developer Georg Backer replied and said we should do our own event. It probably should have ended there, but somehow it didn’t. The next thing is, Jimmy Dance, the owner of Loading Bar in Soho, was offering to host it. It was sort of like one of those Hollywood musicals – ‘hey, let’s put a show on right here’. But with less dancing.

“We’re hugely grateful to Sony and PlayJam for covering the costs of this crazy endeavour so I don’t have to explain to my wife why I’ve spent most of our life savings on hiring video equipment.”

Developers will demo their latest games throughout the day, as well as taking part in mini-talks and maybe even workshops. During the evenings, the event will also be running a live-streamed TV show from one corner of the bar, presented by Keith Stuart, Georg Backer and co-hosts including Rock Paper Shotgun writer Cara Ellison. Streamed via a dedicated YouTube channel and set to be embedded on the Guardian site, the programme will include E3 news and trailers, as well as developer interviews. Several guest stars are set to appear, including famed GoldenEye designer Martin Hollis. Popular gaming radio show OneLifeLeft will also stage a takeover event and mini-disco. More details soon!

EToo takes place from June 10-13. The daily developer event is free to attend for the public, but anyone interested needs to pre-register. The evening livestream show, taking place between 7pm and midnight every night, will cost £6 to attend. This includes a free drink. Tickets and pre-registrations are available at http://etoolondon.eventbrite.com.

For more information and regular updates, head to the official website  www.etoolondon.com and follow us on twitter @etoolondon

“If you’re having no fun making your game then you’re in trouble” says Joe Danger creator

Joe Danger Train2GameTrain2Game students are no doubt enthusiastic about their games design, developer and artist and animator courses, but Hello Games boss Sean Murray says developers in the industry should be more enthusiastic about the work they produce.

Speaking at the Evolve in London conference, Murray said:

“Some game developers, they don’t play their own games, they don’t feel it’s an expression of themselves think that’s very sad.”

“I think some of the gameplay mechanics that are in the social gaming space are more indicative of that, there are certain pyramid scheme elements to the game design that I don’t think anyone who just wanted to make a game that they themselves would play would ever put that in.”

“The social games of the future that are just built around rewards and pyramid schemes… maybe don’t have as much a place in that world”

During his talk, the Hello Games boss showed videos of Joe Danger developers laughing and having fun while playtesting the game.  He said that “If you’re having no fun making your game then you’re in trouble,” We’d therefore very much like to think that Train2Game students are having fun when they’re developing games!

Murray also spoke about how motion controllers saying that they’re great in theory, but “”inaccurate motion control actually reduces interactivity and that’s harmful” He then showed the video of someone ‘playing’ Kinect Joyride and coming third despite not moving at all during the race.

“It’s such as shame, it’s such a lost opportunity. It is actually a good game, but there’s a danger of making games too casual and removing interactivity, and you see that sometimes. I think even the casual gamer doesn’t want to just have reward.” He said.

Train2Game have a great opportunity to be enthusiastic about producing games through entering the Train2Game Christmas Competition. The winners will see their game published during 2011!

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Sean Murray’s comments?  Do you think he’s right about social games? And how enthusiastic are you about your Train2Game projects?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

(Source: GI.biz)

Xbox Live & PSN the ‘perfect platform’ for risky games

The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are the ideal platforms for publishing creative or risky games, according to Another World creator Eric Chahi.  Speaking  to GamesIndustry.biz about the decision to release upcoming game Project Dust by digital means only, he said:

“There’s no distribution or retail to worry about – no manufacture or production costs, so it’s less risky for a publisher to sign an original game. I think it’s the perfect platform for this kind of game that’s not really mainstream.”

Chaci also added that the lower price of digitally distributed games is also an advantage “At retail games are more expensive, whereas on XBLA and PSN they’re cheaper, so you can reach more people.”

Recent Indie hits such as Joe Danger and Limbo seem to support the theory that the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are great platforms for smaller developers – like Train2Game students – to publish games. This is even if a recent report suggests that most games are bought on discs.

So Train2Game, do you think it releasing a game on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live is the way forward? Or are you looking at other ways to publish games? Also, what do you think of Project Dust? The trailer is below.

As usual, leave your thoughts here or on the Train2Game forums.

Always look on the bright side of life

One publisher thought he'd be better as a monkey...

You’re no doubt studying the Train2Game Games Designer, Games Developer or Games & Animator course because you have a creative vision. You have an idea for an awesome game that you want to develop, publish and show the world.

It might be difficult to ‘sell’ your idea to a publisher, but that hasn’t stopped developers in the past, including those of Bejeweled – one of the most popular games of all time. The casual title has sold over 50 million copies since it was launched by PopCap ten years ago. The game has won countless awards and is available on PCs, iPhones and Facebook with 200 million games being played everyday.

However, things weren’t always so rosy as PopCap’s Dave Bishop told an audience at The Develop Conference yesterday.  The industry veteran revealed that when the first build of the game was completed in 2000, a variety of publishers turned down the opportunity to buy Bejeweled for just $60,000. Given the success of the title in the decade since then, a few of them probably that regret that decision!

Bejeweled isn’t the only game that had trouble finding a publisher: Hello Games programmer Sean Murray also spoke at Develop yesterday and revealed that they struggled to find a publisher for Joe Danger. The game was eventually released through the PlayStation network selling 50,000 copies in its first week and was well received by critics. It therefore seems reasonable that Murray extracted some revenge on these unnamed publishers, and some of the reasons they had for declining Joe Danger had the Develop attendees laughing:

“Name me one popular game with motorbikes?”

”Collecting giant coins feels unrealistic to me”

”I can see this working as a Facebook app”

”We want games that are less about fun right now”

”We love the theme, but with a different game”

”We believe the iPhone will be largely unsupported”

”Can Joe be a monkey? We like Monkeys”

They verge on the ridiculous don’t they? A popular game with motorbikes, how about Road Rash or Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned!? Collecting giant coins seems to have worked for Mario over the years and whoever thought games weren’t supposed to be fun eh?

So, what message can Train2Game students take from the ballads of Bejeweled and Joe Danger?  Well first of all it’s that you should never give up, as Bejeweled shows that even one of the most successful games of all time struggled to begin with. Secondly, these games show that you can’t always rely on a publisher to give you the support you think your game deserves. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet it’s now easier than ever to get your independent production out there with Steam, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live all providing outlets for indie developers.

So, what do you think about the comments made at Develop yesterday? Do you think you’ll try to rely on a publisher, or will you take the self publishing route? As usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.

Discs vs Digital – Round 2

Another big name has waded into the Discs vs Digital debate in the form of Namco Bandai VP of sales, marketing and publishing Olivier Comte.

You may remember that recently, SCEE President Andrew House acknowledged that games sold on discs in boxes are still popular but that digital content could possibly the way forward. His comments were discussed in great detail on the Train2Game Forum.

In an interview with MCV, Comte spoke about a number of subjects including the digital market. He questioned its relevance on consoles;

Today digital is a significant part of PC gaming. We are a Japanese company and Japanese companies are not known for PC titles. But we need to have a product on every platform – including PC – so in that sense digital will start to become more important for Namco Bandai. There is better margin and using a digital platform gives us direct access to the consumer.”

“But in terms of console, it is a little bit too early to say. The only real business model for digital on consoles is DLC because the consumer will always want to have the box because it is an expensive thing.”

He raises a good point about the contrasts between the digital markets of console and PC games. As mentioned in a previous blog, the PC has embraced the idea of digital distribution and downloadable content far more enthusiastically than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 has. The dominance of Steam in the digital distribution market has of course helped this along. Meanwhile, console owners prefer their games to some on a disc in a box.

So, while downloadable games may not be to the tastes of major distributors, it’s an ideal way for independent Games Designers, Games Developers, and Games Artists and Animators – like Train2Game students – to get their work out there.

This appears to have worked for independent studio Hello Games, who’ve just released their first production in form of Joe Danger on the PlayStation Network – and it’s had some very good reviews. We’ll have to wait and see if these positive reviews transform into downloads, but with a relatively low price it’s likely that many gamers will be tempted to try it out.

We’re not so willing to risk our money on something new if it costs £40 and doesn’t even come in a box. But this raises an important question for independent developers; do you save costs by releasing your first game as a digital download? Or do you sell it in a box which consumers can pick up on the shelf. Train2Game students, as producers, which medium would you prefer?