News In Review: GDC Special

Apologies for the lack of news updates last week. I’d like to say it was because we were eagerly compiling all the news from Game Developer Conference 2013, and that we’ve spent a week putting together an extravaganza worthy of only the most deserving eyes. I’d like to, but I can’t. It was actually because I was exhausted and forgot. Sorry about that. Anyway, here you are.

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The open-source Ouya made its debut for the general public at the show, attracting players for a demonstration of the tiny console’s capabilities. Ouya is Android based and costs only $99, so it will probably attract a couple of million potential customers on the premise of playing emulated SNES games in HD alone, but while it probably can’t challenge any of the big three manufacturers, it certainly is an inspiring idea and we’ll be certain to pick one up this summer.

The week after EA horribly fell apart after their botched SimCity launch, offering every buyer a free game from Origin, one of those games is set to get a sequel this winter. Battlefield 4 received a lavish 17-minute showing off at the show, which you can see here:

Interestingly, the engine it’s running on looks a hell of a lot like Battlefield 3’s, and I can’t help but wonder whether this is truly a separate game or simply a lengthy expansion pack. Considering there was some seven years between Battlefields 2 and 3, but this one is out a mere two years after its predecessor, I can’t help but feel EA are being creative with their numbering. Still, it’s an entertaining trailer, showing off the various capabilities of the game and including some really exciting action scenes that will be interesting to see come launch time. I will say one thing though, which is that bookending the whole trailer with Bonnie Tyler is a very odd stylistic choice indeed.

Activision had a very creepy real-time facial animation demonstration. This could be exactly the sort of thing David Cage and co have tried to achieve with their interactive storytelling games, but it doesn’t look like we’re quite out of the uncanny valley just yet. See, the problem with facial animation is that humans are best at identifying one thing – faces. That means it’s rather difficult to do a video game face without it looking profoundly odd. It’s an interesting idea to try and improve upon existing technology, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re close to photorealism. If you’re interested, here’s the video. It’s a bit yogurt-filled:

Elsewhere, there was another open source console being shown in the form of Gamestick, a system that’s so simple is resembles a USB stick. The console is plugged directly into an HDMI port on the TV, and controlled with a wireless controller. Like Ouya, it runs Android, so this could be the beginning of a glut of open platforms for independent developers to get their teeth stuck into. It’s always nice to see a widening of the market, so good show, Gamestick.

Overall, the show had 25,000 attendees and should basically be considered a success. We didn’t see everything we hoped for, like a PlayStation 4 console, but that sort of thing is probably waiting for what should be a very eventful E3. We’ll return to your scheduled news content on Thursday.

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Robin Wilde

Co-Editor of Cubed Gamers, meaning I send out, take in, edit and upload content. I’m also in charge of doing much of the graphics and design stuff for the site.

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