Back from San Francisco

Written by Benke on the 31st of March 2009 at 21:59

It's been a week full of technical woes (and thus little in the shape of written blogs from my part), but plenty of interesting interviews and experiences at GDC.

There will be lots of coverage on GRTV over the next few weeks, as well as written stuff from my behalf. It was a strong showing from the Nordic developers at GDC, both big and small, which was nice to see. More on that later, but for now I'm going to try and catch up on my e-mail backlog, play The Pitt and psyche myself up for the first round of the Swedish Football League this weekend.


At Game Developer's Conference...

Written by Benke on the 23rd of March 2009 at 17:28

Just a quick note to say I'm at GDC. Not much happening this Monday, but I'll be checking out a couple of the indie sessions later on in the day.

We're hoping to do 1-2 video blogs a day, and hopefully we will be able to upload quite a bit of GRTV content as the week goes on.

Anyway, I had steak & eggs and Milkshake at Mel's for breakfast so I'm in some kind of mild vegetative state right now. I think I'm getting too old for my favourite breakfast... it's a sad day.


Swedish Award gossip

Written by Benke on the 16th of March 2009 at 11:01

The annual Dataspelsgalan (Video Game Awards) went down last week (I have recovered now). GTA IV took both Game of the Year, and People's Game of the Year. And even though the local distributor managed to break one of the awards in the minutes after the ceremony there was no doubt Rockstar were the big winners of the night. Another moment that stood out was when noone came on stage to claim the RPG of the year award for Fallout 3. Perhaps Ubisoft had forgotten they published the game over here?

Digital Illusions took home the trophy for best Swedish made game of the year with Mirror's Edge. The other nominees were Battlefield: Bad Company, Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Penumbra: Black Plague. I talked to Ulf Andersson, of Grin who made BC:R afterwards.

"Ulf: BC:R actually sold more than Mirror's Edge. It did just 350000 copies.

Me: So you beat them where it counts?

Ulf: Yeah, that's right (laughs)."

We need a bit more drama in the Swedish Games Industry. Fight, fight, fight!

I also had a chat with movie director turned game designer Josef Fares (best known for his movies Jalla! Jalla! and Kopps). He is making an adventure game called Brothers and is looking for funding. "It's going to be something completely different, something you haven't seen before" he promised, and he was confident they would find funding.

On a personal not the best news of the night might have been that a certain closed beta is about to kick off soonish ("spring"). Press and invites only, but soon I will be playing Starcraft 2 at home and that makes a sad panda glad.

Risk and rewards of Resident Evil 5

Written by Benke on the 9th of March 2009 at 14:42

Capcom took a great risk when they decided to make Resident Evil 5 into a tag team experience. Co-op is great, but most players are likely to experience Resident Evil 5 alone, at least the first few times they play it, and then they are stuck with an A.I. controlled Sheva Alomar. And although I must confess to having some thick headed friends, no one I know is as thick as the computer controlled Sheva Alomar I've been spending some time with. You have to save her (repeatedly), and when you have to replay a level over and over again because she can't stay away from the chainsaw wielding Majinis. Well, let's just say I just the b word on occasion.

Playing Resident Evil 5 with a friend is a totally different experience and you can use a great deal of tactic to best exploit the weaknesses of enemies and bosses. This is the way Resident Evil 5 is meant to be experienced.

Either way I can't help, but feel a bit disappointed in Resident Evil 5. It's not that it's too short, (ten hours or thereabouts is just right), and it's not just the A.I. or the traditionally stiff controls, it's the lack of any real puzzles to challenge the player that really saddens me. Resident Evil 5 is a pure action game, linear as can be and with a map that tells you exactly where to go at any point. But with that said Resident Evil 5 also provides me with the over the top moments that I've come to love and mouth watering boss fights.

A visit to Massive Entertainment

Written by Benke on the 5th of March 2009 at 23:20

Earlier this week I took the train from Stockholm down to the very southern part of Sweden - Scania and the city of Malmö where one of Sweden's most famous developers Massive Entertainment resides.

They have just finished up work on the expansion Soviet Assault to 2007's critically acclaimed World in Conflict. And they recently changed hands to new owners Ubisoft. I'm hoping that we will get up some of the interviews we made starting tomorrow (otherwise the first part will be up on Monday).

The studio is currently working on a couple of concepts that have yet to receive green light from Ubisoft to go into full production. And the atmosphere was naturally very casual at the studio between projects. Another contributing factor is that the four floors Massive reside in are dimensioned for 300 people while the studio only employs 100 people. The contrast to most other studios where cubicles are stacked from wall to wall was staggering.

Christofer Emgård, Massive's story writer, had stocked up on a dozen or so Tom Clancy books. Perhaps a sign in the sky of things to come from Massive, but they also seemed to have a liking for fantasy as I walked around the office. Whatever they are up to next it will be interesting to see...