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GDC 2014 omnibus – day three

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Another day, another GDC omnibus. While you slumbered, awards were won, triple-A game engines became dirt cheap, trailers were rolled out and we finally got the Star Trek holodeck we always wanted. Kinda. Sort of.

All this and more after the jump.

Trailers and announcements

Massive Entertainment unveiled their Snowdrop engine trailer for The Division at GDC, with a focus on the engine’s ease of use in comparison to its triple-A competitors. Describing it as a “node-based” scripting engine, the trailer offers a small glimpse of The Division‘s visuals.

Epic Games announced that its new engine, Unreal Engine 4, would be adopting a software-as-a-service model, making the engine, editor and cross-platform mobile deployment tools available at a monthly subscription fee of $19. Developers would be required, once the game is launched, to give Epic Games 5% of the profits. You can watch the trailer of Unreal 4’s features in the newly released video below. Crytek was like “Oh, it’s like dat, den?” and announced that their own engine, CryEngine, would be available to developers for $10 a month, with zero royalty or licensing fees required.

Deep Silver’s Sacred 3 is on the show floor for attendees to slash through, and have released a short gameplay trailer for the game. Sacred 3 was acquired by Deep Silver in 2010 and for a time looked like it might have entered development hell, so it’s good to see some news of it.

Finally, Obsidian Entertainment announced their upcoming tactical military MMO, Armored Warfare. According to the official website, the game “puts you in control of some of the most incredible, modern destructive machines to grace a battlefield.” The game certainly represents a shift in direction for a company renowned for its rich RPG experiences. Check out the exclusive trailer, currently hosted on GameSpot, below.

Awards

The Game Developers Choice Awards and the Independent Games Festival (IGF) awards ceremonies were held last night, and I’m happy to report that Papers, Please received the lion’s share of the awards (glory to Arstotzka!), stamping the final authorisation on the IGF’s Seumas McNally Grand Prize and both the Best Downloadable Title award and the Innovation award at the Developers Choice Awards.

retro-papers

The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite got their due in the Developers Choice Awards, while The Stanley Parable and Kerbal Space Program took the Audience Award in the IGF and Developers Choice Awards respectively. You can get the full winners lists and category breakdowns here and here.

Creative sessions

In a particularly interesting panel, Yu Suzuki — the designer behind Shenmue — spoke publicly for the first time about the development and background behind his highly influential Dreamcast series. From its initial conception as a Virtua Fighter adventure to addressing some of the truly innovative (at the time) features they wanted to implement, it’s worth a read.

Keiji Inafune of Mega Man fame discussed moving towards indie development with his company, Comcept, and the impact of the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter for Japanese developers. “Being the first to do a successful Kickstarter in Japan was an act of breaking the walls,” he said, stating that the emerging indie scene in Japan may propel Japan back to its former gaming glory. He also demonstrated an early build of Mighty No. 9, which you can watch below.

Manveer Heir, a senior designer on the Mass Effect series, made an impassioned plea to developers on the subject of greater inclusion and tackling social injustice within video games. Highlighting everything from Western games’ failure to represent minorities to Papers, Please’s subversive mechanics that called into question peoples’ formalised approach to racial profiling. You can get some of the key highlights of the speech here.

A rather frank presentation by the producer of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Naoki Yoshida, explained that Square Enix’s focus on graphical fidelity is what killed Final Fantasy XIV, and its failure had a cascading negative impact on the Japanese MMO industry. When pots have the same graphical cost as your player characters, perhaps you should be revising your goals.

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However, the flowerpot failed in the interaction category, with zero lines of dialogue.

Virtual reality focus

Anyone worried about the Oculus Rift cornering the virtual reality market can now rest easy; yesterday saw a ton of virtual reality reveals and announcements from several new companies and players. From Android VR headsets to wearable holodecks, virtual reality looks set to have a diverse market.

Speaking of the Oculus Rift, the company announced a new dev kit that’s now available for order. Clocking in at $350, the new version replaces internal motion tracking with an external camera that tracks position in a manner similar to Sony’s PlayStation Move. The OLED display has been dramatically improved with lower persistence and a 960 x 1080 resolution for each eye.

oculus-rift-featured

GameFace demonstrated their Android-based virtual reality headset that doesn’t rely on external hardware for the display, potentially offering portable virtual reality experiences. The headset uses an SDK similar to the Oculus Rift’s, according to GameFace CEO Ed Mason.

Finally, Sulon Technologies demonstrated their wearable headset that’s being described as a “real-life holodeck” to Polygon. Called Cortex, the headset displays a mix of augmented and virtual reality and is currently quite rough in its implementation. But the potential exists for experiences that actively draw from your surroundings, which offers exciting opportunities. Shooters set within real-world environs? Fox News will love it! You can view an old trailer of the proposed tech below, which obviously offers an idealised version of how Cortex will eventually work.

Sources: Polygon, Gamasutra, Siliconera, The Escapist

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