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GDC 2007 Day 2

By dcacho
Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 at 1:01 pm in Gieson Cacho.

Something that I overlooked yesterday were two more conferences taking place at the Moscone Center. While I was looking for the coffee near the press rooms, I discovered the Casual Games and Independent Games summit.

I snuck into a session on Downloadable Casual Games on the Console, where organizers had Chris Early, sudio manager at Microsoft Games, and John Hight of Sony Entertainment. (Officials invited Nintendo to speak but they declined.)

I remember interviewing Early for my retro video game article a few weeks ago. Sitting in front of me, he talked about how next-gen consoles are getting into the casual market. He mentioned the six pillars of what Microsoft desires in their Xbox Live Arcade games: Innovation, gameplay, visual, multiplayer, marketplace and global appeal.

He also mentioned the increase of their game limits to 150MB size. He also talked about how new Live Arcade titles will have the opportunity to add to the gamer points. Developers can now add 50 more points via downloadable content (paid or free).

The size-limit was original suppose to spur innovation in design, Early said. Developers had to do more with less, but Microsoft said it raised the bar on size because they found out that developers were spending too much time shrinking their games instead of making them.

As for the Sony’s Hight, he talked about the differences between the two services. For instance, the PlayStation Network is free and doesn’t really have a size restriction on its content. They have projects ranging from a smaller games in the megabits to King Kong-sized titles that take up 2 gigabytes of space.

Hight also hinted at Wednesday’s annoucements. He said there were two exciting products that Sony has in store. He mentioned episodic content and the release of missions and nothing on the latter. Put if you’ve been reading Kotaku or listened to the rumor mill, you probably have an idea of what it is.

On the other side of the Moscone Center, the four teams of developers were still at working creating four diffrent games in 36 hours.

Josh Butterworth, a hobbyist developer from the United Kingdom, was working on a siege concept. He fiddled around with the Xbox 360 controller and his concept used the controls from “Geometry Wars.” In the game, you’re a small cursor navigating through the crevices of a valley.

Butterworth said he planned on limiting weapons and create tension as the player gets slowly overwhelmed by the enemy while at the same time shooting the hordes. It sounded interesting use of the XNA toolset, and for someone who has been programming for about a couple of months, it looked good.

Downstairs, I headed to the keynote speech by Jane McGonigal of the Institute for the Future, a think-tank focused on trends for the, well, future. We profiled her in the Contra Costa Times a few months back. At the session, she talked about Alternative Reality gaming and its potential in exploiting something called Collective Intelligece.

She said her recent project, I Love Bees, was an example of how you can get a huge number of people to process data. She described a back-and-forth between the game’s designers and the community and the constant adaptation of play. It seems like groundbreaking stuff but haven’t games like “Starcraft” and perhaps “World of Warcraft” been doing that for years?

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