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Darren Waters

Game Developers Conference kicks off

  • Darren Waters
  • 18 Feb 08, 09:58 GMT

The annual gathering of the world's elite developers starts tomorrow in San Francisco and the big question to be answered is this: how on earth will the games industry surpass last year's commercial and critical high?

With record sales and blockbuster titles like Halo 3 and Bioshock 2007 will go down as one of the most successful ever years for the industry.

The Game Developers Conference has a unique place in the gaming calendar. It's not a content show like E3 or Leipzig, but games are hyped and given soft-launches at the event.

The show is primarily a chance for the past year's most successful developers to tell the rest of the industry how they managed to build their work of genius and a forum for discussing the big issues and development challenges of the year ahead.

There is a lot to reflect on.

This time last year Sony was beginning its slow path to recovery amidst sniping and predictions of doom.
Microsoft was anticipating the launch of Halo 3 but had not reckoned on the red ring of death controversy.
Nintendo was in the midst of its seemingly unstoppable rise.

So what can we expect this year?

I've spoken to Jamil Moledina, the conference director, and you can read his predictions here.

To summarise, mobile and new ways to control video games are at the top of the agenda.

I'll be focusing my efforts on mobile gaming and speaking to some of the biggest names at the show.

If there's a question you want put to Bioshock creator Ken Levine, Peter Molyneux, Bungie's Chris Butcher or EA's Lou Castle, let me know.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 11:57 AM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Terry Glover wrote:

This is a question for Peter Molyneux.
Why isn't spore being developed for the big 3 consoles?

  • 2.
  • At 12:23 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Rich Warner wrote:

I think the next technology leap in gaming will be when consoles/computers can communicate with consoles/computers from the other vendors. For example, an XBox 360 player should be able to play guitar heroes with a Wii player and a PS3 player. I wouldn't have thought this is too difficult to make happen but it will take discussions between all of the major players (ie. Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Apple). I'd be interested to know if these discussions have started.

  • 3.
  • At 12:45 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

I've got one question for Ken Levine:
System Shock 3: When will it be made?!

  • 4.
  • At 01:20 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

Question for any of them really - when will game AI start to measure up to the graphics, physics and sound that modern platforms offer?

For Peter Molyneux: After the success of BioShock, and its nature as a 'spiritual sequel', do you think we will ever see such sequels to early Bullfrog games, specifically Syndicate.

  • 6.
  • At 01:49 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Kevin wrote:

It is great to see the next generation of consoles in action, I have owned a Wii myself since before last Christmas and still cannot believe how far we've come since the SuperNES or Sega MegaDrive (Genesis). What really worries me is the fact that the major talent and indeed all of the biggest developments are coming from the same countries. The UK hasn't come up with anything worth writing home about for quite some time and the UK Gaming economy can't survive unless some serious cash is injected and some big companies start developing here.

  • 7.
  • At 02:34 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • t001 wrote:

Terry,
Spore was made by Will Wright not Peter Molyneux he's making Fable 2. I'd also want to know about System Shock 3 because Bioshock and System Shock 2 were some of the best games I'd ever played

  • 8.
  • At 04:02 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • ben wrote:

Can the next BioShock please be harder? It's not fun to be invincible and not have any penalty for death.

  • 9.
  • At 05:03 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Smith wrote:

I have a question for Chris Butcher:
Bungie have placed a strong focus on their online community surrounding their games. What kind of technical challenges do you see yourselves facing as you develop this in your future projects?

  • 10.
  • At 05:10 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Karl wrote:

"With record sales and blockbuster titles like Halo 3 and Bioshock 2007 will go down as one of the most successful ever years for the industry."

Surely the record sales are principally down to the move to a more casual game? You only have to look at the worldwide software sales to see this.

Halo has sold around 7 million since launch - Bioshock 1.5 million and both are showing short legs. Wii Sports around 19 million and Wii play around 10 million - both still going strong. Source: vgchartz.com

Maybe you should be saying that the rest of the gaming industry is finally starting to take note of Nintendo's dramatic success trying to catch hold of their coat tails.

Finally - how can you talk about success in the gaming industry, mention 2 360 games and not mention the Nintendo DS with 30 million sold in 2007. Or for that matter games like Brain Training - 12 million sold and still hitting No.1 on the uk chart before Christmas - nearly 3 years after its release.

Please... tell it like it is... these people are scared to death of Nintendo's domination and are desperate to now find their own 'innovations'.

Without Nintendo's brave market shifting steps with the DS and then the Wii - this year would be at best average and at worst signal the downturn of the videogame industry.

  • 11.
  • At 08:34 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Thomas Brownlee wrote:

Terry - Spore is currently due for release in September for PC, DS and Wii.

PlayStation 3 and 360 versions are in the pipeline, but no date is set.

  • 12.
  • At 08:47 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Thomas Brownlee wrote:

Karl, I am frightened by Nintendo's "innovation".

I really don't enjoy the Wii or DS and I have been a loyal Nintendo owner since the NES.

It's just a trend towards appealing to the casual market rather than gamers and one I hope Sony and Microsoft don't try to follow.

It's hard to respect a company whos main creative force (Miyamoto) said he wants games to be easier.

  • 13.
  • At 10:00 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • Russell wrote:

"how on earth will the games industry surpass last year's commercial and critical high?"

This year has been one of the weakest as far as creativity since I started gaming in 1985. The Nintendo Wii aside all we've had is the same old stuff. The Halo series, Call of Duty, or BioShock (a shallow remake of System Shock 2). Whilst they all may have excellent production, that's as far as it goes.

So, critical high? It's just the same old stuff, only this time it's made to appeal to anyone by making it frustratingly simple. Not only are games in general getting simpler, but franchies once known for their different traits (the Rainbow 6 and Ghost Recon franchies for example) are being made simpler so publishers can cash in on their name.
Developers are also concentrating on Multiplayer, meaning most single player games are too short, and the multiplayer aspect simple unimaginative run and gun action. Online multiplayer used to be about mod teams with a bit of imagination. Never have things been so stale. And it's in danger of staying that way.

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