links for 2009-11-27

links for 2009-10-20

Bouncing around Japan

Sitting in the J-Hoppers hostel in Osaka right now, hoping for the rain to go away . Started the journey over two weeks ago with a few days in Singapore for DICE Asia and Game Connect Asia. Saw some great presentations and well moderated panels, participated in a panel on Breaking into the Game Industry for students (I hope we didn’t crush too many dreams, but the truth doesn’t change!) and made a bunch of new friends. Game devs the world over are great people to hang out with. The crew from the Philippines need to watch out, with all of those invites I might just show up on someone’s door.

If my notes are legible when I dig them up I’ll post some, but I recall Scott Foe’s presentation being a hit and Nelson Wong and Takahiro Murakami had a great term for cultural differences that make games succeed/fail in different markets: The Oddness. My bossman Mario Wynands apparently rocked the house, but because I listen to him all the time I went to a different session 🙂

Flew up to Tokyo right into the waiting arms of a pre-TGS game dev party, caught up with some old acquaintances and managed to leave a refill of biz cards back at the hotel. Clever. From there the week rolled on between wandering with my camera, chatting with developers and random folk, and being blissfully lost in Tokyo.

Tokyo Game Show was smaller than I remember it from 3 years ago, I actually found chunks of the hall unoccupied by booths. Going on a business day was absolutely the way to do it though, 24,000 people vs. 70,000. Actually got hands on time with a few games.

  • Uncharted 2 is fantastic, I need a PS3.
  • Bayonetta is a natural evolution of Devil May Cry, in the short demo I played the combat system was crazy fast and completely over the top. Wanted to try out the easy mode automatic system to see just how it works, but with just one session I stuck to the core game and had some fun.
  • Lost Planet 2 multiplayer was equal parts excellent and frustrating. Fighting the giant beast with 3 other people is great, instant death water pit that you can’t see coming not so much.
  • Red Steel 2 looks nice, plays quite well when you’re pointed at the screen, and the Motion Plus for the sword is solid. Swinging the sword can make it difficult to reorient your cursor on the screen though, will want to see if players can adapt to that.
  • Nier was a big WTH? Muddy textures, very limited combat moveset, and the demo was all of 5 minutes trapped in a single rectangular hallway beating on two giant armoured guys. Some of the combat impact was satisfying but I played this right after Bayonetta and the comparison was not at all favourable for Nier.
  • Best of TGS for me: PixelJunk Shooter. Beautiful fluid dynamics, lots of character to the worlds and the scientists you have to rescue, and devious puzzles + action. Many twin stick games that put rotation on the right stick are a pain to aim and shoot accurately. Q Games has got it so well tuned that after a couple of minutes you don’t even think about it. Execution is everything.

September 30th was Pecha Kucha Tokyo vol 65 which was full of fun presentations and interesting people. Mathematical models of crazy architectural shapes, a cross stitching champion, dolls constructed from leather, beautiful lighting installations, and me bringing up the rear. I talked about Shatter, how we made it and how wonderful it was for us as creators to make our own thing instead of always working for hire on someone else’s property. Everyone loved the art, and the pictures of the guys with beards (James, Jos, I’m looking at you) elicited positive noises from the female members of the audience. 20 seconds of video at the end, just 20 seconds, and lots of people got hooked on the music! Module you need to tour Japan my friend.

Also, there has been music, lots and lots of music. After despairing that Singapore was completely hopeless musically (one place I heard a cover band go from It’s Raining Men to Bryan Adams to Black Eyed Peas as if it was the most normal thing in he world) we stumbled into a Tittsworth set at Zirca. Zouk is one of the other major clubs out there, and I had no idea who was playing until I looked at the ticket after I was in the door. To my delight: Steve Aoki and Diplo. Oh yes. Japan has been brilliant, with Ken Ishii and Dr. Shingo at Womb capping my first week nicely. So far though the best set to rock my feet off was Baiyon playing at Metro in Kyoto last night. Absolutely sublime from start to finish and he even threw some Eden tracks in there. My hat goes off to Dylan from Q-Games who told me about the gig, would never have known otherwise.

No photos yet, this little netbook Josh kindly lent me is lovely for small stuff, but processing RAW images kills the poor thing.

After months of slammed work to get games out the door I can feel my batteries recharging and my brain starting to spin back up in new directions. Back to New Zealand next week, but now it’s time to go walk some of Osaka.

links for 2009-08-07

Shatter, it’s nice to feel loved

Shatter came out July 23rd and everyone at Sidhe rejoiced.

We worked hard on this, Antony (programmer), Corie (artist), and Rory (programmer) in particular. Producer Alan kept track of our madness and helped with the design load. Jon provided his design “get it done damnit” know how. Dan and Daizong made nearly 400 levels which were then refined to the 80 found in the game. Module provided so much music and love, with Jos acting as intermediary and music producer, that it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t be Shatter without his audio genius. Mario kept our eye on quality the whole time and is responsible for the very popular friend’s next best score feature that has players chasing the leaderboards. I provided design support and a sounding board for Antony and Corie, beat the boss design into submission, and acted as their cheerleader whenever I had the chance. Many, many people at Sidhe touched Shatter at one time or another and they all helped make it great.

The love Shatter has been getting is astounding and I can’t believe how good it feels. Shatter is sitting at 87 on Metacritic today and players and reviewers really get it. It’s not a big game, it’s not terribly complicated, and it’s not out there to set the world on fire with cutting edge game design. Instead it’s a tight twist on an old classic and it will make you smile when you play.

A game given time to cook, iterate properly, not rushed and it turns out as well as you could hope. Who would have guessed?

I took a few photos at the launch party, the set is up on my flickr, but I like this one.

Module Live at the Shatter launch party, San Fran Bath House, Wellington NZ
Module Live at the Shatter launch party, San Fran Bath House, Wellington NZ