Tag Archives: game development

FlippFly a Passion for Game Development

Created by two brothers, Forest and Aaron San Filippo, #FlippFly is an indie games company that was founded in 2010 when they quit their jobs to pursue their love of videogames. Wanting their studio to stand out, they crafted four main goals for FlippFly; these being to produce games that are always conceptually new to the brothers, fun, honest, and family friendly. Since the studio’s inception, the San Filippo Brothers made Monkey Drum, a music-production game that allows animal avatars to play the tunes you make, and #RacetheSun, a racing game in which you pilot a solar-powered glider through an obstacle-filled landscape that has infinite variation and its own world creator. GameSauce recently had the opportunity to interview Forest and Aaron San Filippo about their backgrounds, Flippfly’s origin, their games, and surviving in the indie market.

Before FlippFly

 

Forest San Filippo

Prior to founding FlippFly, Aaron and Forest were on career paths that not only differed from their current studio, but also from one another. For instance, while Aaron was working on AAA games such as Singularity and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Forest was running a sign shop that he owned. Both brothers found success in these fields, but also found that that something was missing. As Forest told GameSauce, “Owning a small business was a huge education in customer service, time management, and finances. That experience has really served us well as we navigate the business end of game development. The experience also showed me how stifling it can be to always take orders from customers and try to realize their creative vision instead of my own.”

 

Aaron San Filippo

Similarly, Aaron realized that though he enjoyed being around his colleagues, he wanted more from his work; stating, “My goal in game development was to be able to stretch my creative muscles, to make new and interesting games, and to have a sense of ownership in the work that I created.” Sadly, Aaron found that “AAA studio work in general is getting to the point where you’re mostly just a cog in a machine.”

The brothers’ desire to pursue endeavors that allowed them to explore their creativity pushed them to start their own gaming studio. It was a decision compounded by Aaron’s belief that “it’s never been a better time to become an indie developer” and by Forest’s attraction to the creative freedom that would come from starting a studio. As Forest recollected, “the opportunity to start our own studio and have the freedom to create as I pleased was an attractive idea and it has proven to be incredibly liberating.”

Like most indie game developers, Forest and Aaron wanted to indulge their creative impulses. However, the brothers also wanted their studio to have a unique philosophy towards game development. One of the founding principles that resonated most with Forest is the company’s aim to always create games that they’ve never seen before. “There are tons of great games out there and we can’t risk creating something that isn’t (at-least in some ways) new,” says Forest. “We realize that we stand on the shoulders of other game designers and that our work will always be inspired by other games, but we have to be innovative.” As such, the goal of innovating new types of games is more than just the core of the studio’s identity, it is also, as Forest stated, their “best chance of success.”

Making Music with Monkey Drum and Learning Their Business

FlippFly’s first game would truly stem from the brothers’ goals to create something they have never seen before and that was family friendly; especially Aaron. After years of working on action games, Aaron wanted to work in a completely different genre. Given that both Aaron and Forest are amateur musicians and wanted to share their love of music with their children, the brothers began to think of a new type of music game for young kids. This brain-storming would evolve into Monkey Drum.

Looking back at the creation of this app, Forest explained that “the idea of making an app that could let a very young child experience the joy of making music was really intriguing. It seems likely that many of our games will have tools built-in to let players be creative. Encouraging the artistic nature is something that is close to our hearts.” As an app, Monkey Drum allows players to accessorize their characters, as well as feed, spin, and bop them. More importantly, the player can give characters access to realistic instruments and can be made to play real music.

 

Making Monkey Drum forced Aaron and Forest to grapple with the day to day grind of developing their game.

The process of making Monkey Drum allowed the brothers to indulge in their love of music and their goals to share it with their children. However, making Monkey Drum forced Aaron and Forest to grapple with the day to day grind of developing their game. One challenge that they encountered was time management, according to Forest. “We are both pretty good at working hard and getting things done, but game development is an excruciatingly slow process,” says Forest. “[We] learned a lot about how long things will actually take with a two-man team. To be completely honest, we are still learning that lesson.”

Released on May 25, 2012, Monkey Drum was more than just another app. For Aaron and Forest, it was proof that they could produce a consumer product. As Aaron expressed, completing this game “showed us that ‘yes, we can make a complete product.’” Its completion and consumer feedback gave them the confidence needed to go forward.

Race the Sun and Turning to Kickstarter

The next game that FlippFly developed merged the genres of intensive racing games and open sandbox worlds with infinite variability. According to Forest, this game began when Aaron showed him an image he created with Sketchup (a 3D art program that was at the time owned by Google, but now owned by Trimble Navigation) while asking “Wouldn’t it be awesome to race through this world at super high speeds?” It was a question that would be answered by creating Race the Sun.

This idea excited their imaginations and they immediately created a prototype to begin experimenting with. Much of the game’s development was less FlippFly following a clear direction and more about adding mechanics they thought would work and taking out what they felt didn’t add to the game. “The end result feels pretty intentional, but it was really a long process of trial and error,” says Forest. “We’ve found that letting the game ‘tell us’ how it should be designed is a great way to work.”

Designing this game brought about several new challenges. According to Aaron, one of the hardest parts of Race the Sun’s development was probably the server back-end. As he explained, “it wasn’t an area we had a ton of expertise in, and we didn’t have the benefit of a social layer like Steam’s when we built it. So we had to put together a system for player logins, leader boards, user world hosting (and downloading), etc.” Another challenge the brothers encountered when they were creating Race the Sun was just how demanding a Kickstarter campaign could be.

“Our approach to marketing evolved as the Kickstarter progressed,” says Forest. The goal of the Kickstarter project was to raise at least twenty-thousand dollars. But at the launch of the campaign, all they had was what Forest describes as “a solid alpha of the game.” Though this demo was well designed, it didn’t show potential donors what FlippFly wanted Race the Sun to be. “[What] Kickstarter taught us is that we really needed to show our full vision to potential players,” says Forest. “We could talk all we wanted, but putting those ideas into video and concept art were game-changers. Very few ideas are compelling enough to sell themselves without something visual to back them up.”

 

“Very few ideas are compelling enough to sell themselves without something visual to back them up.”

Luckily, Aaron and Forest were able to quickly adapt to the demands of Kickstarter’s community because their project was a success.  Earning over twenty-one thousand dollars, FlippFly would be able to complete Race the Sun and release it December 9, 2013 on Steam for PC and Mac systems.

Indie Developer Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

Though FlippFly has only been around for a few years, Forest and Aaron have learned valuable lessons about succeeding in the indie-game market. In addition to gaining a better sense of how quickly a game could be developed by two people and how to properly use Kickstarter to raise funds, they also realized the importance of critical feedback. As Forest says, “It is possible that there are people who are geniuses and will make a masterpiece on their first attempt – but that is highly unlikely!”

Properly handling feedback is so important that, according to Forest, “one huge thing that we try to communicate to aspiring indies is the need to accept critical feedback.” Forest further elaborated on this point by stating, “When you spend hundreds of hours on something, it is very easy to lose objectivity. Learning how to accept (and even seek out) criticism is essential if you plan on making and selling games.”

Just as important as the experiences they have gained are the plans Aaron and Forest have for FlippFly’s future.  For instance, their immediate focus will be updating Race the Sun, and following that, they will begin work on porting the game. As Forest explained, “we feel like we are only reaching a tiny portion of our audience and we want to remedy that.”

 

Just as important as the experiences they have gained are the plans Aaron and Forest have for FlippFly’s future.

Beyond further follow up work on Race the Sun, they will also continue to honor one of the core reasons why the founded FlippFly – to innovate. Given their desire to create games that they have never played before, it should come as no surprise that Forest describes FlippFly’s future goals as what follows: “Longer term, we will be making prototypes and trying to discover something fun and new! We have tons of ideas to experiment with, and we hope a few of them are worth sharing with the world.”

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Nnooo Developed Cubemen 2 to be the First Wii U Game with Cross-platform Multiplayer

Australian video game developer Nnooo is bringing cross-platform multiplayer to Wii U with its title Cubemen 2.

Cubemen 2 is a 3D strategy game in which the player controls an army of Cubemen and uses them to battle against enemies in a range of modes.  Players will be able to enter online matches and create and share user-generated levels regardless of which platform they are using.  Players on the Wii U version will be able to battle against others who own the game on Wii U, PC, Linux, Mac, or iOS devices.

“I’m really proud to be able to announce this,” said Nic Watt, Creative Director at Nnooo. “We’ve spent the last few months working with both Nintendo and 3 Sprockets, the game’s developer, to make this a reality.  Cubemen 2 is an amazing game and a great fit for Nintendo players.  We can’t wait to see how creative they are, whether in tactical multiplayer online or in the new levels they build.”

A top-selling Steam and iOS, Cubeman 2 can be played in single player mode or with as many as six players in online solo or team battles against other players or AI.  Players will also be able to create and share their own levels using the game’s built-in level editor.  Wii U players will have access to all user-generated levels created on other platforms since the release of the game. There are currently over 4,000 user-generated levels to play.  The game also includes specific level themes, customizable skins, and a global ranking system.

“We’re excited to be working closely with Nnooo and Nintendo to bring a new dynamic to a Nintendo platform,” said Seon Rozenblum, Director of 3 Sprockets. “We’re bringing the gaming community together, offering true cross-platform play and user generated content across multiple platforms and devices and we are ecstatic to be including the Wii U in our lineup for Cubemen 2.”

This game also marks another milestone for Nnooo, being the first game they have published from another developer.  According to Bruce Thomson, Nnooo’s Business & Marketing Director, “Publishing has always been part of our long term plan.  We’ll be identifying games we think fit well on the platforms we develop for and working with the developers to bring the games to some or all of these platforms.  Our recent funding from Screen NSW has helped us to combine indie game development and publishing under one roof.”

Nnooo is a game development studio based in Sydney, Australia.

From Linux Game News:

Going back to Cubemen, it’s amazing to see a game that started off making an impact on Linux then moving on to other platforms. Even more impressive is the fact that Cubemen and Cubemen 2 are both fully cross-platform, giving a solid example of just how an independent title can impact the gaming community.

From everyone at Linux Game News, a very warm congratulations to Nic Watt and Nnooo.

Reblogged from: news10.net

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Future Linux Game Development Looks Good with the Latest UNIGINE Update

The UNIGINE, a real-time 3D engine built to run on all major platforms, including Linux, has just received an update, bringing some changes such as data streaming and terrain improvements.

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Unigine Engine is built by non-other than Unigine Corp., the company behind the Heaven DX11 Benchmark software. The technology they develop is getting better all the time, and with their recent expansion on the Linux platform, we’re all too glad to see that major updates have been implemented in the engine.

Amongst the biggest changes in the latest Unigine update is the introduction of a landscape plugin for UnigineEditor.

According to the developers, the landscape plugin allows users to create huge seamless scenes containing virtually unlimited number of terrain objects (each one of them can be up to 16385×16385 units in size).

Highlights of the new Unigine Engine:

  • Terrain data streaming is now fully asynchronous;
  • Users can now force load a specified terrain region via Terrain::loadHeights() function, with the specified bounding box;
  • The “progression” parameter has been added for terrain LODs. The prev_distance + lod_distance * (lod_progression ^ lod_number) default value is now 2.0;
  • The terrain file format has been changed;
  • Support has been added for pre-cached file hierarchies. This means that the engine initialization time can be extremely reduced even with large assets database;
  • The background loading of images (with unpacking) has been added;
  • The filesystem_clear console command has been added. It can be used to remove all loaded, but unused resources;
  • Various performance optimizations have been done for the terrain rendering;
  • The OpenGL core profile compatibility has been improved;

A complete list of new features, for all the platforms, is available in the official announcement.
Keep in mind that the UNIGINE graphics engine is only aimed at commercial enterprises and that not even a trial version is available for the general public.

Reblogged from:  news.softpedia.com

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Unity3D Became a Game-Development Beast

The existence of Unity3D and similar products (such as the Unreal Engine and CryEngine) has helped democratize game development.

Unity editor.

In the early 2000s, three young programmers without much money gathered in a basement and started coding what would become one of the most widely used pieces of software in the video game industry.

“Nobody really remembers how we survived in that period except we probably didn’t eat much,” said David Helgason, the CEO and co-founder of Unity Technologies, maker of the Unity3D game engine.

A decade later, untold numbers of developers have used Unity3D to make thousands of video games for mobile devices, consoles, browsers, PCs, Macs, and even Linux. The existence of Unity3D and similar products (such as the Unreal Engine and CryEngine) helped democratize game development, making the kinds of tools used by the world’s largest game companies available to developers at little or no cost. This has helped developers focus less on creating a video game’s underlying technology and more on the artistic and creative processes that actually make games fun to play.

Helgason explained that a game engine is “a toolset used to build games and it’s the technology that executes the graphics, the audio, the physics, the interactions, the networking. Everything you see and hear on the screen is powered by this code that has to be super-optimized because it’s moving so much data and throwing so many pixels on the screen.”

At one point in time, he added, every game company in the world had their own proprietary technology—which made a lot of sense in a more constrained world where device memory was low by today’s standards. Game engines, in their natural state, were little more than minimal scaffolding around a particular game. But that eventually changed. “As platforms became more complicated, the technology requirements for making games became more complicated,” he said. “At some point you needed different shadows and special effects and smoke and particles and physics has to be realistic, and all this stuff.”

Instead of requiring separate software products for major development aspects such as animation, physics, rendering, artificial intelligence, sound, and so on, engines such as Unity3D give developers just about everything they need to build games in one package. Unity3D’s Pro edition is $1,500 per user; there’s also a free version with less functionality, but can still be used to build and sell games.

“We Were Just Hackers and We Just Liked Our Macs”

A decade ago, when Helgason joined with colleagues Joachim Ante and Nicholas Francis in Denmark to work on their project, they wanted to make something in the image of Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Final Cut gives amateur filmmakers reasonably priced, professional filmmaking tools; Unity would do the same for video game developers.

But the trio lacked a solid business plan. “The ridiculous and bizarre thing was literally the first and only platform we supported in the very first months was the Mac,” said Helgason, who is now based in San Francisco. This was before the Mac’s resurgence, and the Mac’s place in the gaming industry (especially compared to Windows) was even punier than it is today.

“It was the worst possible choice we could make from a business perspective, but we were just hackers and we just liked our Macs,” he said. “We weren’t thinking big thoughts from a businesses perspective.”

The three survived on loans, occasional consulting projects, and some non-technical jobs. “I did some cafe work in the evenings, mainly for the free food because it didn’t pay much,” Helgason said. “We were all in, we didn’t have any other projects we were doing.”

A somewhat primitive version of Unity was released in 2005. The team added support for Windows PCs and Web browsers early on. By 2008, the engine had become more sophisticated and software sales were paying the bills, allowing Unity to expand to a dozen or so employees.

A turning point came in mid-2008 when Apple unveiled the iPhone App Store. “We rushed and managed to support the iPhone, the first game engine to do that in late 2008,” Helgason said. “It happened really quickly. Suddenly, a lot of people wanted Unity.”

Another big advance came in 2008 when the Cartoon Network used Unity3D to create FusionFall, an MMORPG for kids that’s been played by 8 million people. Electronic Arts used Unity3D in 2009 to make Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online, and even Microsoft and Ubisoft became customers. In 2011, Unity bought an animation company called Mecanim, boosting the game engine’s underlying technology.

Today, Unity and its 285 employees around the world support development for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Web browsers, PS3, Xbox 360, and the Wii U. Unity is planning to support Sony’s PlayStation Vita, but hasn’t decided yet whether to support the Nintendo 3DS. Windows Phone and BlackBerry support is in the works. Some 1.8 million developers use Unity; the software’s browser plugin has been installed more than 200 million times. Dead Trigger and the upcoming Dead Trigger 2, among the most graphically complex games for iOS and Android, are based on Unity3D.

Despite the big names using Unity3D, it’s the smaller developers that make Helgason especially proud. “Big companies could always make games, they would figure it out and buy technology or build it themselves,” he said, adding: “Where we really made a dent is making it so that these masses of people can not just build games but can build games using the same tools as the big guys.”

Building games with Unity

The Unity Editor provides a drag and drop environment for creating games. Helgason said it’s possible to create a game in Unity without writing any code, but most projects require programming chops. Unity users can program in C#, JavaScript, or Boo, which uses a Python-like syntax. The development environment runs on Mono, an open source version of the .NET Framework. Unity itself is written in C++.

“The code that has to run super-fast like the physics and animation, all that  is C++,” Helgason added. “But the code that should be easy to write, you can write in .NET.”

inXile Entertainment is using Unity to build Wasteland 2, a post-apocalyptic RPG scheduled to hit PC, Mac, and Linux in fall 2013 as a result of a Kickstarter fundraiser that pulled in nearly $3 million. inXile also plans to use Unity to build Torment: Tides of Numenera, scheduled for December 2014 and the result of a $4 million Kickstarter.

Unity3D is a “component-based game object system,” said inXile technical director John Alvarado. “Every game object, you can attach scripts to. You write your scripts and derive them from a certain class and model behavior, and automatically when you drag scripts onto a game object that you create in the editor it will run your script. … It’s real easy to add code components to any object you create in the game, whether it be a box you just made or an animated character. It’s a very modular, object-oriented way of adding functionality to an object in the game.”

inXile previously used the Unreal Engine to build a game called Hunted: The Demon’s Forge for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows. Unreal has its technical advantages over Unity3D—but given that Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera are turn-based combat games, Alvarado said, “we didn’t need that extra horsepower that the Unreal Engine provided.”

Unity3D was also a bit easier for Alvarado to learn. Unity offers an “Asset Store” that’s reminiscent of phone app stores, only it contains components and useful code in place of actual apps. “There’s quite a lot of material available through that store that was useful to us,” Alvarado said.

The Future of Unity—a Bigger Push on Consoles

The original trio that founded Unity is still going strong. Ante (“the best coder I’ve ever met,” in Helgason’s words) remains the CTO. Francis, who provided “the creative vision for a lot of the tooling and how we designed the workflow,” remained a top Unity executive until a few months ago, when he left to run an indie studio that’s making games—with Unity3D, of course. “He always used Unity more than we did,” Helgason said.

From their initial days supporting only Macs, Unity Technologies now builds for almost every platform. “It’s really, really hard, not to write an engine that sort of works everywhere, but to write an engine that uses the capabilities of these different devices and runs as fast as you can possibly run,” Helgason said.

But Unity3D was several years late to supporting the PS3 and Xbox 360, well after most developers had chosen their software for developing games on those platforms. And while Unity has announced support for the PS4 in collaboration with Sony, it won’t be ready in time to create launch games for the console.

Helgason acknowledges that the engine is well behind on traditional consoles. One challenge in building for next-gen consoles, he added, is supporting global illumination technologies that allow for more realistic lighting in 3D environments. Unity counts the number of mobile games based on its platform in the “high thousands,” but the list of console games numbers only in the dozens.

“We’re working very hard to change that, of course,” Helgason said. “If you look back in a year or two, you’ll see how far we’ve moved.”

Reblogged from: slashdot.org

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Unity Engine will support devices running on Tizen Linux mobile platform

The folks behind the Unity engine – Unity Technologies – have announced that the engine will support the Linux-based open source smartphone operating system, Tizen. The company will release deployment tools that will allow developers to make games for smartphones and tablets running on Tizen.

“Unity and Tizen have a lot in common in that they both aim to make the creation and the deployment of games and other apps as easy as possible for developers,”said Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason.

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Unity has been making quite a push for development in the mobile scene. Recently, Helgason had announced that the engine will be free to game developers on iOS and Android. According to the company, the decision was made in an attempt to push the “democratisation of game development further than ever before.” Earlier, licensing the engine for game development on Android or iOS would cost $800 (approximately Rs 44,376), but it has now been made completely free.

This, of course, is a great move for game developers, especially because of the popularity of the game engine. A wide variety of different games have been made with the engine, ranging from DOS-styled management games like Organ Trail: Director’s Cut to turn-based RPG Knights of Pen & Paper and even full-fledged 3D games like Surgeon Simulator 2013.

“We were able to make Unity free for the web and for desktop computers a while ago, but have been dreaming of doing the same for mobile for what seems like forever,” said CEO David Helgason. “Mobile games development is possibly the most dynamic and exciting industry in the world, and it’s an honour to be able to help so many developers be so successful in fulfilling their visions and in building their businesses.”

While the engine is only free for iOS and Android at the moment, the company has hinted that it might make the same move for other mobile platforms, including Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10. With the availability on Tizen, maybe the company will make the engine free for some other open source operating systems too.

Reblogged from:  tech2.in.com

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Klei Entertainment’s founder says struggles of AAA devs are fueling independent dev scene

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Klei Entertainment’s founder Jamie Cheng believes the recent struggles of big AAA developers have given rise to the independent game development expansion, according to an interview with GamesIndustry International.

“With all the changes and layoffs, we’re seeing so many new studios come up that are doing these games without the crutch of hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing…I think for sure that the layoffs are fuelling way more development in the small, independent space,” Cheng told GamesIndustry.

That said, Cheng pointed out that AAA developers are still needed as sources of trained talent for independent development studios.

“I enjoy having the large AAA around because they were hiring and training tons of people, and I can’t do that,” Cheng said. “We have 30 people and that seems like a lot in the independent space. I can’t go out and train a lot of people in development, and that’s what they were doing.”

When asked about his thoughts on the future of independent game development, Cheng said that as the growing trend of direct-to-consumer digital distribution gets “good enough” it will “overtake the retail stuff. And that’s what’s started to happen.”

GamesIndustry also reports that Cheng is interested in seeing where the trends of pre-orders and alpha funding leads. He said that Klei tried to set a good example with Don’t Starve’s early access beta.

This was achieved by providing gamers with a solid game that isn’t going to crash, despite it being an early access beta, and that the team is “going to be responsive on the thing that you bought.” Cheng also said as new distribution methods emerge, developers have to be mindful of “what the player feels like.”

Established in 2005, Klei Entertainment’s stable of titles include Shank, Mark of the Ninja, Eets and soon to be released Don’t Starve.

Reblogged from: polygon.com

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

 

GDC 13: Oculus offers devs four-month Unity Pro trial

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Free extended licence available to SDK owners from April

Oculus has signed a deal with Unity to offer a free four-month Unity Pro licence to all developers of its virtual reality headset

The extended license period is open to anyone with an Oculus development kit, and will be available from April onwards.

The Oculus Rift development kit is expected to start shipping from March 29th. No release date has yet been set for the consumer version of the hardware.

“Unity provides game developers with amazing tools that bring joy to the process of creating games, while also lowering the financial and time barriers of high-end production,” said Unity CEO David Helgason.

“The next generation of video games will not only be found on consoles, but also on PCs, mobile devices and in the cloud though none of these platforms offer the ability to step into the experience. That is where the Oculus Rift comes in. We’re partnering with Oculus to give Unity developers the ability to create the most immersive gaming experiences yet.”

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe added: “The Unity engine’s innovative design, ease of use, and flexibility have helped game developers of all skill levels develop some of the most unique games on the market.

“Like Unity, we share the desire to help developers create games unlike any other, and we look forward to seeing our combined technologies transformed into virtual reality.”

The news of a partnership with Oculus follows on from Unity’s announcement earlier today that it would be supporting all Sony PlayStation platforms, including the PS4, Vita, PlayStation Mobile and future cloud gaming services.

Reblogged from:  develop-online.net

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Team Fortress 2 to get virtual reality mode

Valve’s free-to-play hit is first game to offer full support for Oculus Rift

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Valve’s hit free-to-play shooter Team Fortress 2 is to be given support for the upcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Though this isn’t exactly something the industry hadn’t suspected – the company will offer at talk at GDC about its efforts porting the game for virtual reality – it was far from certain Team Fortress 2 would be available for launch on the Occulus Rift.

We think that both augmented and virtual reality are going to be a huge deal over the next several years,” Valve’s Joe Ludwig told Engadget.

Valve has been working on its own hardware and peripherals, but it doesn’t yet have a virtual reality headset.

For this, Valve has relied on an unofficial partnership with Oculus, which provided Dev kits to the Bellevue, Washington studio.

“We don’t have any hardware,” explained Ludwig.

“We’ve done a bunch of experiments with various bits of hardware, but we don’t have a display that we can ship.”

“Oculus is actually out there doing this, and so we’re partnering with them because they have the hardware and we have the software and we can help each other out. And we can both learn a lot in the process.”

Valve is rather unique in its investment in VR tech; it is reportedly the only company outside of Oculus to have a whole team devoted to virtual reality.

“Team Fortress was sort of the obvious choice for this,” said Ludwig.

“The Team Fortress community is large and healthy. There are millions of people playing TF every week, but they’re also used to us shipping a lot of updates.”

As for whether or not the company has any plans to release a VR mode for its numerous other first-person titles, Ludwig says the company is experimenting.

“There’s certainly interest internally in moving other Valve titles,” he said. “We don’t know yet what the community thinks of all this.”

“We’ve played a bit in Left 4 Dead; we’ve played a bit in Half-Life 2. We haven’t taken any of those other games to the point where they’re anywhere close to being ready to be shipped; we’ve just sort of experimented with head tracking a little bit.”

In the meantime, Valve is eager to start getting feedback from fans about its foray into virtual reality.

“We don’t know how strongly people will react to VR,” Ludwig says.

“We don’t know how popular it will be, what people wanna see. It might be that we need to learn a lot more from TF before we move on to other titles. We just don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

From Linux Game News

There has yet to be any official word as to whether we will see virtual reality coming to Linux. But being that Valve is keen to bring native support to the mainstream, chances are we can expect to see something.  In fact, it will be impressive to see such capabilities brought to other game engines.

Reblogged from: develop-online.net

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Record shattering Torment Kickstarter breaks $1m in six hours

33,700 backers pledge funds to InXile RPG

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Brian Fargo’s lateset Kickstarter Torment: Tides of Numenera has shattered crowdfunding records by amassing $1million in just over six hours.

To be developed by InXile Entertainment, the studio had asked for $900,000 to fund the new RPG, but more than 21,000 backers have now smashed that target pledging $1.8m at the time of writing, with 30 days left to go.

The landmark means that the project has reached the $1 million mark quicker than any other campaign in the site’s history.

The project has beaten previous record setter Android console Ouya as the fastest campaign to hit $1million, with Ouya taking eight hours and 22 minutes to do so.

The campaign for the tiny console went on to raise $8.5 million from more than 63,000 backers.

“Our heads are still spinning at the incredible response we have had from today’s support of our Kickstarter campaign,” read a statement on the developer’s Kickstarter page.

“We had plans to roll out our stretch goals and to write our Kickstarter updates but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would fund this quickly.”

Tormentt: Tides of Numenera is being designed as a single-player isometric and story-driven RPG, and will be developed used the Unity game engine. Current planned platforms for the title include PC, Mac and Linux.

The launch of the new crowdfunding campaign follows the success of the developer’s previous Kickstarter project Wasteland 2, which raised almost $3 million from more than 60,000 backers.

Despite being crowdfunded in March last year however, and with the developer beginning a new Kickstarter campaign, Wasteland 2 has still yet to see release, although it is currently slated to launch toward the end of the year.

A description on the website claims that the developer has taken to crowdfunding before Wasteland 2’s release to improve the cost-effectiveness of development.

“We’ve discovered that the best way to create a deep and rich RPG is to begin the pre-production process long before the production team have finished their current project,” reads the Torment Kickstarter description.

“If we waited to begin the design work for a large scale RPG until after the programming team has completed their work, our budget would increase by 50 per cent or more. This would result in the hiring and firing process that happens all too often in our industry. We want to break that model and keep our great team together. This is why it makes sense for us to begin work on Torment now rather than later.”

Pledge Torment on Kickstarter

Reblogged from: develop-online.net

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Indies on the rise, smartphone and PC development growing, GDC poll says

”indies-on-the-rise-pc-development-growing”

A recent survey conducted by the Game Developer’s Conference brought forth some interesting statistics about the current state of game development. Over 2,500 developers were polled, all of which either attended last year’s GDC or plan to attend this year. Of everyone polled, 53% labeled themselves as indie developers. And while the definition of an indie developer is sometimes debated, 46% of those polled said they worked at a company of ten or less, with only 24% working with a publisher to release their last game. It doesn’t get much more indie than that!

Developers were also asked to state which platforms they develop for, and smartphones and tablets took the lead here. 38% of developers said they released their last game for smartphones and tablets, and 55% said they’re currently at work on a game for those platforms. PCs and Macs took second in this category, with 34.6% of developers having released their last game on those platforms, and 48% at work on games for them now.

All good news so far, right? Well, only if you aren’t Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo. Only 13.2% of developers said they were working on a game for Xbox 360, with only 14% planning on releasing their next game for the platform. The PlayStation 3 fared no better, with only 13% of developers saying they were developing for the console, and only 12.4% aiming to release their next game on it. As for next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft, an equal 11% of those polled said they were working on a game for them. The Wii U came in dead last, with 4.6% at work on a Wii U game, and 6.4% releasing their next game on the platform.

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37% of those polled expressed interest in developing for Android-based consoles like GameStick and OUYA

One of the most intriguing statistics came from a question about which platforms developers were most interested in developing for. 58% of those polled chose smartphones, but “PC-based TV consoles” like the Steam Box came in second at 45%, with Android-based consoles such as the OUYA coming in at 37%. Consoles fared a bit better here, with 27% expressing interest in developing for the PS4, and 29% interested in Microsoft’s next-gen console. Sadly, the Wii U had an interest level of 13%, and the 3DS a paltry 5%

Mind you, this may not be indicative of the current state of game development. Not all of the major console developers attend GDC, which may have had an effect on the data. Regardless, it’s clear that interest in smartphones and tablets has yet to wane, and future platforms like the Steam Box and OUYA will likely be a hotbed for indie game development.

Reblogged from: gamezebo.com

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Indie game development on the rise in a big way

By gamasutra.com
”i-love-indie-games”

The number of indie developers in North America is on the rise, according to the Game Developers Conference’s State Of The Industry survey, with 53 percent of respondents now calling themselves “indie.”

The 2013 survey also found that 51 percent of these indie developers have been indie for less than two years, signifying that 2012 saw a notable indie uprising in the industry.

Additionally, 46 percent of those surveyed said that they currently work in companies of 10 people or less, while only 24 percent worked with a publisher on their last game.

And what of the games they’re currently working on? As it turns out, 20 percent of respondents are working with a publisher on their current project.

The graph below shows how developer interest is weighted towards platforms that are friendlier for independent game development (click for larger version):

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The Game Developers Conference polled more than 2,500 North American game developers who attended the conference in 2012 or plan to attend GDC 2013 in March about their development practices, revealing several notable trends with regards to platforms, money, team sizes and more.

The GDC intends to field a similar survey each winter, in advance of the conference in San Francisco.

Organized by the UBM Tech Game Network, GDC 2013 will take place March 25-29 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

You can check out all the information from this year’s State Of The Industry Survey on Gamasutra.

Reblogged from: gamasutra.com

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Thatgamecompany’s Kellee Santiago joins Ouya team

Co-founder of Journey studio to handle developer relations

by Aaron Lee @develop-online.net
”thatgamecompany-s-cofounder-joins-ouya-team”

The former co-founder of Thatgamecompany Kellee Sanitago has joined Ouya to lead its developer relations.

The Ouya team had been searching for someone to lead its outreach to developers, and specifically wanted “someone who really ‘gets’ how developers work”, and can help them bring their creative work to the platform.

Santiago, who was a key part of Journey maker Thatgamecompany, left the studio in March last year in what was said to be an amicable departure.

“Ouya gets it. This is the first console company that really understands how important it is to remove the barriers to development. By freeing up the development process, Ouya is opening up new doors in console gaming,” said Santiago in a post on Ouya’s blog.

One of the first developers that Santiago may be working with is Portal co-creator Kim Swift, whose studio Airtight Games is developing a title for Ouya.

Kim added: “We truly feel that this platform will give us the freedom to fully realise the funky, unique game we have in mind. Though the title will definitely appeal to core gamers in terms of skill and difficulty, it really has a completely unexpected, imaginative slant that’s totally at home on this console. Expect an official announcement soon!”

Other developer making titles for the console include Minority Media, Tripwire Interactive and nWay.

Ouya is currently scheduled to begin shipping to Kickstarter backers from March 28th.

Reblogged from: develop-online.net

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News

Sweeney looking forward to digital future

Moving out of retail gives developers more flexibility, says Epic boss

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The founder of Epic Games says he’s looking forward to an increasingly digital marketplace.

The coming console generation will drive development costs upwards, but by going digital, companies can potentially avoid some of the rigid pricing demanded by retailers.

“We’re more enthusiastic now than ever about the future of high-end platforms,” Sweeney told Edge.

“What we’re doing on high-end PCs is going to be representative of the future consumer gaming experience and it’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be a substantial leap over the current generation.”

The problem with the current model is that it has built-in inefficiencies that make the cost of games artificially high.

“You run ads on television so that people walk into a retail store, buy a piece of plastic and stick it into their digitally connected device,” said Sweeney.

“I think we have a lot of latitude – publishers and developers alike – to increase the efficiency of that. Once you have a game, it’s available pervasively online, and your devices are all Internet-connected, do you really need to run television ads to get people to find it at the top of the App Store?”

This will free developer resources so more cash can go into building games, and this has Sweeney excited.

“I’m looking forward to our digital future,” he said.

“Development budgets are going to be the dominant cost in the industry, and the efficiency of building games will directly improve profitability. As we move more sales of games out of retail, that creates a lot more flexibility for developers to make games at different scales and price them differently.”

Independent developers have had these freedoms for years through digital platforms.

While games like FTLMinecraft, and Killing Floor can all effectively set pricing in accordance with costs, demand, and value, almost all triple-A games are sold at about $60 regardless of budget.

“If you look at games that just encompass triple-A production values, there’s a huge range of scales where games have been successful and profitable,” said Sweeney.

“You don’t need $100 million to build a triple-A game. But if you want to spend that much, you can build one that looks absolutely insane.”

From Linux Game News:

Notice all the games mentioned: FTLMinecraft, and Killing Floor?
All of which run natively on Linux as well as other platforms. That really has nothing to do with absolutes, but it does lead one to think.
Will Epic finally get into the gaming industry with Linux?
Might there be a stronger co-relation between developers and Epic for a cross-platform environment?

It seems that Indie developers and triple-A games will become similar in their potential playing field as more and more games become available for digital download.
The only difference being, triple-A games seem to have a bigger operating budget for marketing. Where indie titles gain popularity in a more organic fashion. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Obviously Epic has something up their sleeve. As it seems console development will be receiving a sharp blow in the development community if budgets are cut. A hot topic of conversation amongst game studios, which is interesting, considering that next generation gaming consoles are only months away from release.

2013, the year of Linux gaming? 😀

Reblogged from: develop-online.net

PC is ‘centre of innovation’, says Newell

by Seth Tipps @develop-online.net
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Valve founder outlines his company’s plans for the platform

Gabe Newell has given his second DICE talk in as many days, outlining Valve’s plans for expanding the PC ecosystem.

In the past year Valve has gone public with its plans for hardware development, switched focus to Linux, and is now talking about making Steam an API rather than an corporate-controlled store.

“We think there is going to be a fairly significant sea change of what we think a game is,” said Newell.

To Newell this rapid pace of change is all part of the platform that has defined his company since its launch.

“Over the last decade or so, the PC has really been the centre of innovation in our industry,” said Newell.

“Whether it’s MMOs, social gaming, free-to-play, or 3D graphics hardware, it’s really come out of the open competition that’s possible when you have things like the PC and the internet.”

The company began a revolution in distribution with the launch of Steam: the first major platform for digital distribution.

This has the founder thinking about games and gaming as an economy shaped by the holders of the platform.

In the past this has meant Windows, but Newell has already spoken about his fears that Microsoft is taking its operating system to a more closed model that would damage these economies that have thrived due to the open nature of the PC.

“[Linux] is something that we’re going to continue to expand on,” said Newell.

“It’s sort of a get out of jail free pass for our industry, if we need it.”

Newell says that one of the big advantages of the PC is its power as a developer platform that allows for rapid adoption of new technologies.

The birth of streaming entertainment services gave the PC yet another use, and by taking the platform to the living room Newell thinks developers will be more able to adapt to changes in these new technologies.

“There’s no evidence at all that innovation is slowing down,” said Newell.

The first option for this living room expansion is the currently available solution of plugging an HDMI cable into a television, a feature which costs the user about $100.

The issue Valve is trying to solve is standardising input models with manufacturers so that customers can have a painless experience when adopting this low-cost solution.

The second option is a console-like form factor PC in the living room designed to work with a large screen: the heart of Valve’s partnership with Xi3 and the reason behind Steam’s new big picture mode.

The third option is pretty straightforward – a more expensive living room box – playing to the scaleability of the PC.

When all is said and done, Valve hopes to have an ecosystem that is capable of harnessing the power of the biggest resource available to the PC: its community.

“Our customers have defeated us, not by a little, but by a lot,” said Newell, speaking of the massive ammounts of user-generated content now available for games like Team Fortress 2.

While Valve flatters itself with the idea that it can compete with any game developer out there, it can never hope to compete with the volume of content produced by users.

So much the better, says Newell.

“Economies get better the bigger they are.”

”linux-game-gaming-gamer-news” title="Linux Game Gaming News