Sunday, May 29, 2005

Is this the way to Amarillo

I loved the music video spoof in fridays Rocketboom vlog. It's a spoof of the song (Is this the way to) Amarillo by members of the British Army in al-Faw, Iraq. Here is more information about it.

The music video spoof of Beach Boys Kokomo (as Kosovo) here by norweigan and american soldiers isn't bad either.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Gamers' Manifesto

The crate has long been held up as a symbol of lazy game art design, a crutch that game level decorators have been falling back on for fifteen damned years. Come to think of it, have you ever actually seen one of those wooden crates in real life? And did you smash it to see if there were bullets and medicine inside?
A Gamers' Manifesto: 20 things gamers want from the seventh generation of game consoles. Very good and fun article with lots of should be obvious stuff about games. Must read for developers.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Announced

id Software announced today Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (press release) developed by Splash Damage together with a screenshot
As the invasion begins, players choose to battle as one of five unique classes in either the EDF (Earth Defense Force – humans) or the barbaric alien Strogg armies, each augmented with specialist weapons and combat hardware. Troops utilize over 40 conventional and futuristic vehicles, deployable structures, and defense systems like quad-bikes, tanks, and alien walkers for epic ground assaults; or helicopters and anti-gravity ships to lend firepower from the air. Throughout each battle, teams establish bases, deploy defense structures, artillery, radar, and advanced forward-command systems into enemy territory while constructing and demolishing obstacles to speed progress and gain a tactical advantage over the enemy.

With realistic dynamic lighting and shadowing from headlights, searchlights and even the moon, battles can be fought during the day or night; while accurate simulation of the atmosphere, weather, and vegetation combine to create an unparalleled degree of realism. Battlefields are perfectly rendered using MegaTexture, a totally new rendering technology developed by id Software that crunches millions of polygons and a gigabyte-scale texture into a single, seamless and un-tiled landscape with unique detail down to the square inch or the un-obscured distant horizon.

Sounds interesting, perhaps a worthy Battlefield 2 competitor? Wonder what's so special about their MegaTexture(tm) landscape rendering system tough, the landscape looked pretty standard in the screenshot at least, nothing special at all. But perhaps they've focused on long view distances and huge levels instead. Probably by using generated normalmaps which would be a huge win in both quality, memory and performance if you want really high geometric detail. That combined with geometry clipmaps (or similar GPU-centric solution) and some innovative texture compression scheme and/or procedural layer system might almost qualify it at as a "totally new rendering technique". But the sceptic in me says it's just PR as usual, but I hope I'll be positively suprised.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

MTV Xbox 360, superficiality & buzzwords

Danny Ngan has a really good post in here in his blog Poo-Poo Platter about the MTV Xbox 360 special that aired earlier this week and the state of the games industry with the all the superficial focus on graphics, buzzwords and celebrities instead of the actual games and game design.
Also, with mass acceptance comes the pressure to make everything attractive and pretty just to get people’s attention. Kids, fanboys, and newbie/wannabe developers are completely blinded by all the buzzwords and acronyms shoved out there by video card manufacturers and high-priced game engine developers for the sole reason of selling their wares. Those kids seem to think that Shader 3.0, ragdoll physics, full-destructable environments, realtime hair and fur, and what-have-you are essential requirements for good games. Sure it’s nice to see all these pretty things happening on screen, but do they really make the game any better? Does seeing every single hair follicle on the bouncy-boobed leading lady’s head sway in the wind while she guns down fuzzy fire-breathing demons in the middle of a rainforest with sunlight shining through the leaves and casting semi-translucent shadows on the ground while shiny bullet shells fall to the ground creating small puffs of dust actually make the game more fun?

As a game developer, this frustrates me to no end. Too many players are concerned with how it looks and not enough with how it plays. Ideally, it’s an equal balance of both. Great graphics, great gameplay. However, it’s the looks and the fluff that get the game noticed, so we have to deal with it. MTV used to be about music and videos. Now it’s about Jessica Simpson living the blonde stereotype, horny co-eds on The Real World, and Jackass. Is the game industry turning into MTV?

I must say I really agree with him, even as one of those people that implements the "sunlight shining through the leaves and casting semi-translucent shadows on the ground" and finds that utterly fascinating and interesting. Those people will always exists, but in order for the games industry to be taken more seriously and expand beyond the current experienced and hardcore gamers, buzzwords and superficial advertisment can't be the sole focus. But that's obvious, isn't it?

IGN Battlefield 2 Hands On

"Right now, I'm in love with DICE" - Dan Adams, IGN

IGN recently got to play BF2 and has written a short but good preview here and created 25 new videos of it.
Still, the base feel is certainly different than it was in 1942. Weapons seem much more true to life in their dispersal patterns (in fact the guys say they spent a lot of time making sure automatic fire really made it harder to hit distant targets) and simply feel good when they're fired. Each of the weapons I had the chance to use was a unique fighting experience and I'm sure players will have favorites in no time at all

I also had the immense pleasure of playing BF2 on a playtest at work last friday. Hadn't really played it before, especially not in a real playtest with full servers, and I must say that it was the most fun I've had in a game for a long while. The game was very polished, ran fast and well balanced. I'm definitely looking forward to more playtests and the actual release. Good work by our team :)

These are the Voyages...

Just saw the final Star Trek: Enterprise episode These are the Voyages, what a weak episode. Especially since it ends the 18-year continous run of modern Trek on television and it will be a while (at least a couple of years at a minimum) before we will get a new series.

WARNING: Spoilers below

One of my main objections with the episode was that they didn't let the Enterprise characters stand on their own feet, they just jumped 6 years into the future (with the only thing changed was T'Pol's hair) and focused on Will Riker from TNG, esentially making the Enterprise characters supporting characters in their own show.

The actual plot was very weak, the whole Shran apperance and the rescue mission for his daughter felt like it was created only so Trip could go totally out of character and commit a pointless suicide to save the captain and the ship from a villain that should have been no match at all for them. By the way, how did those simple thugs find and catch up with Enterprise and then board it at warp 7?

On the positive side, the whole forming of the interstellar alliance that will become the Federation was very interesting. That was something I was looking forward to ever since Enterprise was announced 4 years ago. Unfortunately they didn't deliver tough, basically just showing glimpses of the event and not even showing Archers supposedly legendary speech, damn you TPTB.

Overall I would grade the episode 2/5.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

RalliSport Challenge 3

Now with the recent Xbox 360 unvieling at the ridiculously worthless MTV event a couple of days ago (look at the OurColony video here for a much better presentation) there have been quite a lot of speculation on what games are coming to the new console. One of the games that was announced was Project Gotham Racing 3 which caused enthusiastic speculation that RalliSport Challenge 3 also was in development.

As far as I know, as one of the developers on both RalliSport Challenge 1 and 2 here at DICE, that isn't the case. At least not at DICE since we are more or less a part of EA now and they aren't that big on platform exclusive titles (or titles that sell less than one million copies). But since Microsoft owns the RalliSport IP they can develop the game themselves or let another studio do it for them. That would be kinda cool and interesting to look at but I doubt it will happen since RSC2 unfortunately wasn't really a commercial hit for them.

For all RalliSport and Xbox 360 fans I've dug up a couple of high-resolution development screenshots (720p with really good antialiasing) of RSC2 so you could get a glimpse of what RalliSport Challenge 3 on Xbox 360 might have looked like at a minimum. If we would do a sequel on Xbox 360 it would look a lot better than this tough, trust me..

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