GDC 2014: Critical thinking and analysis in game development programs

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Features | Leave a comment
2014-03-18 13.52.28

Flanagan, Bogost, Brice, and Keough

Game development programs are forever facing a changing landscape. Traditionally, students are provided the tools to prepare them for the AAA industry, but where do they go when they want to learn about game development as a creative form? Music and creative writing have had programs for decades, but games are still struggling to catch on in this regard.

On Tuesday March 18th, at room 3020 in the West Hall, a panel of game development professionals offered their view on how students can gain an appreciation for how critical thinking an analysis can be implemented into the current educational curriculum. Hosted by Brendan Keogh, a PhD Candidate at RMIT University in Australia, his first question to the panelists was “What is critical thinking?”

Mattie Brice, an established game critic, particularly around the topics of diversity issues and narrative, described it as “An awareness that another perspective beside your own exists.” She continued with “Your perspective may give an incomplete amount of information. Other perspectives can help complete this.”

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GDC 2014: Antichamber: An Overnight Success, Seven Years in the Making

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Features | Leave a comment
Alexander Bruce

Alexander Bruce at the 2012 IGF awards

An emotional Alexander Bruce took the stage on Tuesday morning at GDC 2014, to speak during his panel titled ANTICHAMBER: An overnight success, seven years in the making. Bruce had given a similar speech in years prior, but following the release of his recent success, Antichamber, it was interesting to see how his perception of work had changed over the last year.

Bruce opened with the question “What makes me different?” Drawn on his power point presentation were words such as ideas, experience, awards, press, and connections, and in the middle lay the word luck. “Luck is something I don’t control, so I factor it out of all of my business decisions,” Bruce proclaimed.

He continued with a synopsis on how he got involved in the games industry, starting with his education at University in his home of Melbourne Australia in 2005. “I wasn’t the best at ‘X’, but I soon realized that I was very good at being different. So I turned that into a strategic decision.” It was at that point when Bruce realized that he would need to stand out at University to get into the industry, and then necessary to stand out at University to get hired overseas.

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GDC 2014: AAA Academics: Superstar Designers in Academia

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Features | Leave a comment

2014-03-17 13.49.46

Academia and game development are at an interesting crossroads. A new trend is emerging, with prominent industry figures making the switch to academia. While formal education programs for game development were nearly non-existent in decades past, they now exist in hundreds of schools across the country today.

Four such luminaries took to the stage on Monday at GDC to discuss the trials and tribulations of their experiences with making the career move, in a room filled with educators and industry hopefuls. When pegged with the question of why he chose to leave his role as Lead Game Designer Naughty Dog, Richard Lemarchand claimed “I’ve always wanted to get back into a higher education program after making games, so I started volunteering at USC, and got involved with IndieCade in 2009. Soon after, a friend got in touch with me and sad that a role at USC was available, so I jumped at it.”

Brenda Romero, one of the most prominent women in the gaming industry for her leadership previous roles in the IGDA, 30+ years of development experience, and a chair on the IGDA Board of Directors, felt “I was at a transition point, saw an ad for a game designer to teach, and accepted the job. Once I got there, working with the students made it irresistible.”

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GDC 2014: Vlambeer talks live streaming game development

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Features | 1 Comment
Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Vlambeer has been a bit of an anomaly in the independent gaming scene for the last several years. Run by the affable Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman out of the Netherlands, the two have consistently pushed out hit after hit for the last three years, and finally spill the beans about how they do so.

In an overwhelmingly large room filled with nearly 600 individuals, the two studio heads bounced their sentences off from one another in a charismatic fashion which instantly won over the audience.  The first key to the duo’s success is the prototyping phase, in which they quickly build a game in YoYo’s Gamemaker framework to determine whether or not it is fun.

Their upcoming title, Nuclear Throne, (formerly Wasteland Kings) was conceived during a game jam which they live streamed in early 2013. Noticing the instant feedback and attention it was receiving during that process, they soon decided to make the live streaming a frequent event. So frequent in fact, that it is now occurs twice each week, in four hour sprints.

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90s arcade inspired shmup, NEO: XYX hits Dreamcast and Neo Geo

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Reviews | 1 Comment

Neo xyx box ar

This is the 2nd Dreamcast shmup I’ve received for review in the last 30 days. Who says the Dreamcast is dead? If the box art doesn’t raise a sense of nostalgia from within your soul, then nothing will.

I would have sworn that this 2D shooter was produced by a Japanese team in the 90s, but the mailing address on the package label told me otherwise. Truth be told, the masterminds behind this 90s arcade inspired shmup are two German brothers, Timm René Hellwig, who have been running NG:Dev since 2001. This is their 5th title, and most of which have been released for the Dreamcast or Neo Geo at this point.  I’ve always been interested in what inspires developers to build games on older hardware, especially at a time when platforms with large, established user bases are prevalent.

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Mark of the Ninja and Don’t Starve figures available in new online store

Posted on by Mike Wall in News, PC News | Leave a comment

mark toy

If you tire of staring longingly at that empty spot on your desk and dreaming of one day filling it with a sweet Mark of the Ninja figurine, then you’re in luck! Klei Entertainment has launched a new online store where you can purchase collectible figurines from Mark of the Ninja and Don’t Starve.

The ninja figure stands 8″ tall, features an assortment of swappable magnetic masks, and costs $49.99. There are 12 Don’t Starve figures, which are available in random boxes. Each box contains the figure along with a main accessory and a second random random one. A single box is $12.99; a 3-pack is $32.99; an 8-pack is $94.99 and a retail display box with 16 figures is $184.99.

The figures were designed in collaboration with Erick Scarecrow and ESC-Toy, LTD, who worked with Klei to design the Don’t Starve plushie last year.

The figures are the only items on the digital shelves for now, but Klei is aiming to stock them with more goodies throughout the year.

Source: Klei Store

La-Mulana 2 Kickstarter funded with 5 days to spare

Posted on by Mike Wall in News, PC News | Leave a comment

Generous backers have pledged more than $200,000 worth of their hard-earned treasure to fund the La-Mulana 2 Kickstarter with 5 days to go.

The sequel to last year’s excellent retro adventure will star Lumisa Kosugi, the daughter of the original game’s treasure hunter, and developer NIGORO is planning on a December 2015 release on PC.

Even though the project has already met its goal, there are plenty of stretch goals including ports for Mac and Linux. Rewards include the game, T-shirt, a digital copy of the game, and figurines. Visit their Kickstarter page for more info or read our review of the original to whet your appetite.

Update: A playable demo is now available. You can check it out on Playism’s page.

Today is your last day to Kickstart Rain World

Posted on by Mike Wall in News, PC | Leave a comment

Okay, we’ll come clean: we don’t know what the heck a slugcat is either except that it’s a slug…cat. Oh, and it’s also the adorable protagonist in Rain World, a silky-smooth-looking post-apocalyptic platformer coming later this year to PC.

The two-man team of Joar Jakobsson and James Primate have been working on the game for 3 years and have turned to Kickstarter to finish development and pay for licenses. The game has more than doubled its $25,000 goal, and today (Thursday) is your final chance to throw some shekels at them and claim your rewards, such as a digital copy of the game, soundtrack, chance to design a creature in the game, plushie, and more. The duo has released a new trailer of footage, which we’ve conveniently embedded for your viewing pleasure. You can view their Kickstarter here.

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