I remember when I started up my own studio, we were looking at different tech and the thing to use back then was UE3. However, getting in touch with the appropriate person was hard and eventually I met Mark Rain and he said that they were becoming indie friendly with UDK. We got the paperwork sorted out with different NDAs and whatnot and started downloading the engine - took us three days since it was gazillion of files. I remember one of our coders readin through the docs and in the docs it said something like: If this is your first Unreal project, make sure you got someone with Unreal Engine knowledge before you start. That doesn’t sound very developer friendly at all or anything that feels very great. We spent a week trying to compile different projects and what not and eventually ditched UE in favour of Unity3D which was easy peasy to deal with in comparison to Epic and UE. During my contact with Epic I always thought of Epic and got the feeling of Epic, as being a dudebro company only looking to attract other dudebroes. However, the last two months have been very interesting.
Things seem to have changed now. For the better for everyone involved!
From the announcement at GDC in March, Epic announced that Unreal Engine will cost barely nothing to start with and they will take some rev share if you become successful. The game engine will be kind of open and subscription based, rather than hidden behind gazillion of lawyers and black magic to get your hands on it. This is great for game developers and future to be game developers. It is also pretty awesome that they give you the full source so you can look beneath the surface and teach yourself about the inner things of how the engine is built.
Another great announcement Epic did was from yesterday’s talk at twitch, where they are going all in with open development. The new Unreal Tournament will be built with the community and everyone can participate! The game will also be free! Now that is a huge thing to do, considering the past, where Epic has been this big black box. Great job so far Epic!
All other game engines need to shape up and show their muscles! =D
So, I was at GDC three weeks ago (GDC was awesome and woah, time flies. I thought I was going to write this down as soon as I got back home..) and I finally managed to try out the Steam gamepad! So what did I think of it..?
The gamepad has potential, but there are some serious things that need to be fixed.
The Steam guys are trying to create a gamepad that caters to all kind of genres; fps, rts, point n click, plat-former, fighting you name it. The idea is to let the circular parts of the gamepad adopt to the game you are playing. And since the circular pads are flat, they can emulate whatever control scheme That is great! However…
The down side
The gamepad doesnt’ feel perfect for any of the genres since it doesnt do much right, right now. The reason why I think it still has a long way left is because the haptic feedback is not on par with a analog stick nor a mouse track ball. The few mintues I tried it out, I was having issues understanding when my thumbs were moving over the center point when moving from left to right. However Im not throwing the idea out of the window yet. The reason for that is because when dual analog sticks on gamepads and wasd+mouse look happened, we all ran around in fps games either looking straight down or straight up into the sky. As time progressed we managed to fully master these new control paradigms. I hope and think that the same thing is with the Steam gamepad. Since I don’t own one myself I cant really tell how good you can become with it.
A lot of people have recently written what nintendo should do and what they shouldn’t.
I found this one in particular interesting.
Why? Actually I would just want Nintendo games on a “phone”-like device and be done with the os side of things. Imagine how easy it would be for devs to deal with the development if they wanted to be on that gameboy.
What I def don’t agree with that article is to try to make the games look “mature” by applying the latest normal-bloom-specular-3d-occlusion culling-oculus-vr-dogs-realistic-physics-engine . I think Nintendo are doing great jobs with their art styles, and at least they are trying to do different things than “realistic” that never looks realistic since everything looks so out of place and will look OLD within a year or two.
I wasn’t there myself but had a bunch of friends there and I followed their tweets closely. There is also a good writeup of the two days on steamdb.info
For me, the biggest change was that Valve presented a new iteration of their gamepad. What does that mean? In my opinion this means that Valve figured that without any real buttons, the game experience for a lot of 2d games will be crippled and that is why they ditched the four buttons/screen in the middle and added “dpad” plus four buttons. I think this is great, but I think that Valve will continue their mission of making the front face of the gamepad “buttonless”.
I was hoping to see a new gadget here but it seems like Valve won’t be releasing their own VR but instead work with Oculus. That is awesome considering Oculus probably have more people dedicated to this and they exist because they want to do VR hardware, rather than Valve which is a platform company.
Steam is not completely open yet
I haven’t been able to find a lot info about this unfortunately. The only thing that Valve seem to be sayin is that they want to remove themselves from the process and let the community decide what should be on Steam and not. I was actually hoping that they would be talking about how and when.
So what did we learn from CES? Basically nothing new. What a disappointment it was and I’m wondering where all the cool gadgets went..? Maybe I was overexcited and believed that the manufacturers at CES would show something in particular super smart that we had never heard of. We saw a newer Occulus Rift, nothing about release date though. We saw 4k screens. Nothing new there. At least tv manufacturers have understood that 3d is crap. And where are the super bendable screens that Samsung talked about last year? Just put it in my phone already!
Steam Dev Days
Next week is Steam Dev Days. Im hoping that they will reveal a new kind of VR headset to compete with Occulus, but the biggest change will probably be when they say that they will become Amazon of games. What does this mean? This means that everyone will be able to put up their game on Steam and they will crowdsource the discoverability with help of the community. Which means that you and I, all the youtubers etc will be able to become affiliates to Steam and we would get a kickback from the sale that we forward. Why do I think this will happen? GabeN have been talking about this for a long time, that discoverability is an issue when Steam is becoming more and more open. Also green light will be dead, they are already approving 100 games at a time and that is quite a lot.
After reading Raph Koster’s post on why it is important that you write about your self, or at least tell people that you exist, I started to write on an about page. I agree with almost everything Raph writes so I would recommend reading it.
Currently my about page is a bit too long but I will fix that some other day. Some of the text is copy pasted from an old blog post I did at Ludosity. Next up I need to add some kind of CV I guess. It should be shorter than the about page.
My thumbs are aching (yeah, original “art” by me)
I’m getting tired of my big Sony Xperia Z. It is a 5” Android with 1080p screen. Nothing wrong with that except that I cant actually fully use the phone with one hand. And sometimes I really want to do that. So..since screen sizes doesn’t seem to become any smaller on phones, what should we do?
Well, app developers need to stop putting all the buttons and search fields at the top and place them at the bottom instead (yeah, I know we don’t fully do this yet in Minecraft - Pocket Edition. Will propose a fix to the team ;)). Another reason why this is good is because you don’t actually need to cover majority of your screen when you will do different tasks in the apps! This also works well in landscape mode. Especially on tablets, your hands need to travel quite a bit when buttons are at the top.
Seems like windows phone has already done this in IE and other parts of the OS. I like that. But I’m not ready yet to change to change to WP.
Or even better, get that scroll phone I was writing about in previous post into production asap =)
(not my dirty fingers)
MMXIV - Not much have changed, yet.
So what will 2014 bring? Hopefully some awesome games for the next gen consoles. And I still hope that the screens with “bubbles" will be a thing. I’m really excited about future tech.
CES in Vegas is due to start really soon! What will the industry show? I really wish that bendable screens will be a thing in real products so mobile phones can go back to being small again and not needing their own purse. I still imagine a “lipstick” kind of mobile where you can pull out the rolled screen from the inside of the shell. Kind of like a scroll :)
Steam will have their dev days in two weeks. Unfortunately I wont be there since we at Mojang don’t have a relationship with Steam.The agenda over there is that Valve are going to show off some of their VR tech. Will be interesting to see what they bring to the table.
Something else we will see in 2014 is the push from Oculus. They claim that they have fixed most of the issues that prototype 1 gave you (motion sickness, lowres screen) and Im really looking forward to the future. For me though, the Oculus didnt give me much of a 3d depth feeling. It was just a screen very close to my eyes. I hope that I just had a bad day when I tried it out, because I really want to get that immersed feeling by being IN the game world…
Recently Content ID and a bunch of game companies seem to have gone berserk on different game videos on YouTube. It is really sad to see this happening and Im not sure what the intention is. To be honest, I doubt Minecraft would have been where it is today if it wasn’t with a lot of help from people spreading the word about Minecraft through YouTube. Anyhow, I hope that other game companies can change their minds about this weird mission they seem to have to take down every video they can find where their brand is being mentioned.
It is perfectly fine to publish videos of Minecraft on YouTube. Here is a link to our terms where it says it is fine, and also what other kind of things you can (and cant ;)). Check under “Videos and Screenshots”.
This game pad from Valve looks really exciting. However I wonder how it would feel like with no proper buttons. It will probably not win any design awards.
The reason I’m excited though, is because they are trying something new and that is something you should always encourage! Regardless if it is a success or failure, it is very bold! I love playing Street Fighter and it will interesting to see if that still works properly with this game pad.
I’ll try to bully some friends that do release games on Steam and see if they have managed to get a game pad that I can try out =D
You can read all about it here: http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamController/