Train2Game News: Mass effect of Bioware ‘fathers’ on the move

Bioware has announced its plans for the future following the departure of their founding members.

Earlier in the week Dr Ray Muzyka and Dr Greg Zeschuk, the founding fathers of Bioware, left the company.

To reassure the world, the company announced what’s next in line for development. The biggest announcement was that of a new IP for the next generation of consoles.

Aaryn Flynn, General Manager of Bioware Edmonton and Montreal, said “Casey [Hudson, Mass Effect series boss] and his leads are putting together their vision for an all-new game set in a fictional universe, built from the bottom-up with all new gaming technology.”

Their next project to launch will be more DLC for the highly popular Mass Effect 3. They have said they will develop more multiplayer and single player content. The single player content is strongly rumoured to be set on the Mass Effect 2 location, Omega. The add-on should see players team up with angry asari Aria T’loak to retake her crime-laden home from long time antagonists Cerberus.

Bioware are currently looking in to how they can expand the Mass Effect series in to another game for the series.

The company have also been working on their other highly popular series, Dragon Age. The third instalment was announced a few days ago named Dragon Age 3: Inquisition. No more details have been released about the game to date.

Mr Flynn said about the departure of the Doctors “I know this might be concerning for some of you but the leaders at BioWare have had some time to think about it – to think about how the games, the fans, and the creative teams would move on without the two guys who started this organization back in 1995.

“We – including Ray and Greg – think the studio is solid and the team here is ready to embark on a whole new era of games.”

EA’s GamesCom Presentation: The Big Announcements

EA have made several big announcements and revealed some impressive trailers during their presentation at GamesCom 2010.

The big news is that Mass Effect 2 will be released on the PlayStation 3 in January next year, while Bioware also showcased an impressive looking Dragon Age 2 trailer. Dragon Age 2 is due for release on March 11th 2011, will apparently be more responsive to players controls and will be featuring a revamped artistic direction.

EA also revealed that The Sims 3 will be released on the PlayStation 3 on October 26th and will include new ‘karma’ features and an achievement system.  Not only that, but The Sims Medieval, an all new stand alone Sims title is scheduled for release in March next year.

The Sims Medieval will allow life simulation enthusiasts to give their Sims quests and even partake in duels.

We also discovered that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be Kinect compatible. (Kinect’s UK launch date was earlier confirmed as November 10th) The announcement was made through making the guys who play the Weasley twins in the film demonstrate the game. The motion controller was used to cast different types of spells and looks like it could be the first ‘hardcore’ Kinect title on the Xbox 360. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released in November.

There were also gameplay Demos for Dead Space 2 and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit which were both rather intense. EA also showcased a Medal of Honor video which featured elite soldiers explaining how their work as consultants is helping develop the war themed first person shooter. Medal of Honor is released on October 15th 2010.

So Train2Game, that’s a quick round up of the big announcements from EA’s GamesCom presentation. What news stands out from the news? Is it Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3? Dragon Age 2? Or perhaps it’s The Sims Medieval or even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being Kinect compatible!

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

The PC – The ideal platform for Train2Game students?

Dragon Age: proof of a popular PC game

My spiffing Train2Game colleague Gabe recently published a blog about PC gaming, and as what could be described as a ‘hardcore’ PC gamer myself, it got me thinking.

Gabe’s blog came following remarks from Bioware that the PC “is made for gaming” which seemed rather obvious to me. It should of course be obvious to anyone who’s played a Bioware Role Playing Game, be it Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins.

When it comes to these RPG’s, it’s the PC that’s king, and in an interview with CVG, Bioware designer and writing director Daniel Erickson says the numbers speak for themselves.

“Every two or three years we hear the announcement of fantasy being dead, PC gaming being dead and RPGs being dead, and yet, all of the biggest games that ever come out – that set the records – are nearly always PC games, and a lot of them are fantasy games.”

The biggest game in the world is a fantasy, PC, RPG MMO. We all know the drawbacks of PC. We all scream at our boxes and try to make stuff work. But at the same time, the interface is made for games. The mouse/keyboard interface allows so much less restriction [Than consoles]”

Personally, I’ve not experienced Dragon Age: Origins on a console  – I play it on PC – but it’s certainly obvious to me how much easier it must be to play on a PC as you can easily access spells and talents using hot keys 1-9 and the space bar easily pauses the action. I’d imagine the whole process is a bit fiddler using a control pad, but if you can do so, feel free to prove me wrong!

The PC certainly gives Train2Game students, be they Games Designer, Games Developer or Games Artist & Animator, an opportunity to test their skills thanks to the number of games with large modding communities.  Half Life 2 and Fallout 3 are just two games that a loyal fanbase who are giving others the opportunity to try new weapons, new skins or even whole games.  Counter-Strike, one of the most popular online shooters of all time, started as a fan produced Half Life mod and shows that with the right ideas, modding a current game could provide a small studio with a big break.

Some developers even encourage the addition of community content to their games, with Valve perhaps providing the best example of this with Team Fortress 2. Valve have run numerous community competitions calling on fans to create items in the form of weapons and hats with the winners being able to see their creations in game. There seem to be a lot of talented Games Designers out there, and Valve are going to have a tough time deciding on a winner of the most recent contest!

The PC is the most popular gaming platform, partially due to the rise in the popularity of flash games which in itself provides even more opportunities for Train2Game students to create games.

So what do you think? Would you consider creating PC games? Have you already made mods? As usual, let us know here on the Train2Gameforum.

Digital distribution – The Train2Game students best friend?

Digital and pre-owned games constituted one third of the United States market last year, with US consumers spending over $4.5 billion dollars on them according to research by the NPD Group.

It wasn’t so long ago that discs, or cartridges, were the only way for the consumer to purchase a video game. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s now so easy to buy games without even leaving the house.

Of course, there’s the standard online shopping which allows consumers to buy the latest Call of Duty or FIFA through just a few clicks, but even then they’ll have to wait a few days for the postman to deliver what they want. So the gamer might be happy about not having to leave the house – because let’s face it, if we can avoid moving we will – but less pleased about not instantly receiving the game.

Digital downloads almost entirely bypass this issue. When purchasing a game, then downloading it, the consumer doesn’t have to wait long at all before they can play it. Of course, Train2Game has previously examined the discs vs. digital debate, but over the weekend I saw for myself just how easy it is for us download games – games that we may have had no intention of actually buying in the first place!

I like to relax – if relaxing can be defined as bellowing instructions to teammates down a microphone – by playing Team Fortress 2. Now, in order to play Team Fortress 2 I need to log into Steam, Valve’s content delivery system. When I logged in, a special offer popped up saying the Mass Effect games were on offer over the weekend only, with a whopping 75% off the RRP. Having never played a Mass Effect game, and having heard how great they are, I decided to buy the first Mass Effect title for the grand total of £3.24. If I could have afforded to, I would have bought Mass Effect 2 for £12.99 too.

So, having signed into Steam to play Team Fortress 2, I find that I’ve parted with my hard earned cash and soon have a shiny digital copy of Mass Effect installed on my hard drive.

This is why digital downloads are ever-increasing their share of the consumer games market – it’s just so easy to download a game! The thought of buying Mass Effect hadn’t even crossed my mind before I logged into Steam on Sunday afternoon, but a few hours later the game had been added to my collection.

Of course, the knock down price played a massive part in my decision to make the purchase – which is probably why pre-owned games are doing so well too – but the fact is I parted with my cash and bought a game that is two years old through digital distribution.

Train2Game students should take heed of how powerful the digital market has become in recent years, and strive to take advantage of it. A Games Developer, Games Designer and Games Artist & Animator can get together and make a game yes, but ultimately in order to become successful in the industry their creations will have to sell. For Train2Game graduates just starting out in the industry, digital distribution would be by far the easiest way to do this, be it through a standard PC download, Steam, the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

There’s a consumer market out there, who with the right incentives will buy new games at the drop of a hat. What will you do to market yours? As usual, freel free to leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.