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Day Two of Game Developers Conference Europe 2010 Brings News From Industry Heavyweights Heiko Hubertz, Hermen Hulst, Eric Chahi and More
Aug 17, 2010 (01:08 PM EDT)
BERLIN, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The second day of the Game Developers Conference Europe™ 2010 (GDC Europe) has brought with it a large slate of game industry news at the Cologne Congress Center East in Cologne, Germany. Produced by UBM TechWeb Game Network, organizers of the leading Game Developers Conference® series, GDC Europe is the largest professionals-only game event in Europe, encompassing a robust selection of keynotes, lectures, panels, and sessions. GDC Europe continues in Cologne, Germany through August 18, 2010 for its third and final day of learning, networking, and inspiration. For more information on GDC Europe visit: www.gdceurope.com.
"Day Two of the conference has again proven to be a resounding success," said Frank Sliwka GDC Europe Event Director and UBM TechWeb VP European Business Development. "All of our attendees seem very excited to have received such great industry learnings from stalwarts and legends like Heiko Hubertz, Hermen Hulst, Eric Chahi, Matt Firor and many, many more."
Highlights of today's activity include:
- In the day's first keynote, Heiko Hubertz, CEO and founder of Bigpoint, gave attendees the advice that to conduct business in America as a European company, the time to do it is "right now." Throughout the talk, Hubertz elaborated on the differences between the US and European markets and educated the audience about how to be successful in America as a European, based on Bigpoint's experience there. Hubert advised "There are only existing two markets in America," says Hubertz. "The console market and the Facebook market." The biggest players in online games are from Europe, he says, referring to Playfish, Bigpoint, Gameforge, Jagex, and Unity. And yet, Zynga is bigger than all of them. "Zynga is generating more revenue than all the [other] companies combined," and is growing faster than them too. Hubertz believes Americans are dominating the social game space "because they only have one language, one government, one law, and they have much easier access to capital." Europe is too fractured to be as successful, he said. He also pointed out his belief that Americans want multiplayer action games, while Europeans care more about strategy and solo games. So to succeed in America, Hubertz feels a developer needs 3D. Additionally, he recommends hiring "only Americans." He said "I'm the only German who works there, the rest are all Americans." He also cautions of audience mismatch, so developers should be prepared to change everything. "Most of our games that were very successful in the rest of the world were not successful in America," said Hubertz. Final points of advice were to use well-known IP to break into new markets, noting that it helps with player retention, and to "act as a local company... if you want success in the U.S., you should develop games for the U.S. only, not for worldwide. Casual or hardcore 3D. Nothing in between."
- In his keynote, Guerrilla Games managing director Hermen Hulst discussed the genesis of the Killzone creator and its successes and failures in evolving into a Sony-owned AAA console powerhouse. Hulst started by noting "to survive and to grow... you need to consistently improve yourself," and took attendees through examples of how Guerrilla's experiences have informed their history and the key decisions made from the time Sony signed the title that would become Killzone through to today. Reminding the audience of the environment at the time of the first title, Hulst said that "it's very hard to imagine how risky the idea was in these days," when the only console FPS success was GoldenEye for N64, and only FPSes for the PC were enjoying strong popularity. He discussed the benefits of developing their own technology from scratch, and the ups and downs of the franchise history through Killzone: Liberation for the PSP, Killzone 2 for the PS2 and the release of the CGI trailer for next year's Killzone 3. It took three and a half years to make Killzone 2, and the Guerrilla Games team were committed to making Killzone 3 swiftly and efficiently. Changing the process, Guerrilla has been getting its processes and technology even more co-ordinated, and is currently in alpha on Killzone 3. Hulst concluded by revealing that the studio is expanding to work on a "game with a scope and a level of ambition that once again makes us nervous" -- specifically a "brand new IP."
- Eric Chahi, creator of Another World and director of Ubisoft's wildly ambitious downloadable title tentatively called Project Dust, spoke about the upcoming game which allows players to re-terraform the world around them, creating islands, rivers, and life using simple tools that interact with each other intelligently. Chahi's talk entered on the idea that a correct meeting of technology and game design can allow for the creation of something truly unique. To do that, Chahi said one must "keep only the essentials for the purposes of optimization, and to keep these things simple for the player." Chahi explained that, as the high level idea of the game is rather conceptual - players keep a tribe of humans alive in this changing environment - the interface has to be simple. However, a game where mud is actually created dynamically by water flowing, requires intense technology behind such a simple interface.
- Zenimax Online head Matt Firor talked about the complex definitional relationships between the 'casual' and 'hardcore' in games, showcasing how games like Zynga's FarmVille have "serious hardcore gaming characteristics." Going back to the beginnings of the industry, Firor pointed out that early, iconic titles like Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros. weren't actually that casual - they were, if anything, "fun but hard." But then in the 1990s, "new, dark games" like Doom changed things again. The gameplay of those 'darker' titles was similar in terms of losing lives easily and having power-ups, although from a different perspective so further differentiation was needed. From a marketing and cultural perspective, it developed that, if there were bright colorful games, they were 'casual.' Conversely, if games were dark and ominous, they were 'hardcore,' Firor suggested. So more cartoon-y games were considered to be easier to play and more for beginners, even though that may not have been true—and this is where the definitional problems have come in. Firor noted that "you can play hardcore games casually," and vice versa. It "comes down to a mindset, more than a game." In fact, Firor argued that World Of Warcraft can often be played casually, and, of course, one can even play Solitaire in a hardcore fashion, and FarmVille is the ultimate example. Other titles like Tetris Friends on Facebook actually introduce hardcore mechanics, like competing high scores, which allow people to battle each other for supremacy, "a very hardcore concept." Firor concluded that "games aren't casual or hardcore... the gamers are."
In addition to the conference content, GDC Europe provides several opportunities for creative exchange and business development, with venues including the GDC Europe Expo Floor, VIP Lounge, and the GDC Europe Business Lounge at gamescom, plus a host of industry parties. More than forty exhibitors and sponsors from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, the UK and the USA have booths and meeting spaces within the exhibitor zone measuring 650 square meters. Exhibitors include Crytek, Bigpoint, Epic, Howest University, Imagination Studios and Intel. GDC Europe will also be hosting for the first time a business Lounge at the accompanying games expo, gamescom, at which Autodesk, Crytek, Epic, Zotac, DigiProtect, Level 3 are confirmed to be exhibiting.
For up to the moment news on GDC Europe visit: www.gdceurope.com.
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