We’re on the verge of an official release of The Harlem Globetrotter’s Trick Shots on iOS and Android. This game was a lot of fun to work on, and not only was it fun to make, but it has been non-stop fun for us to play while making it.
While we were at E3 2012 showing off Snacksss to the press, the great folks at The FWA had a surprise for us!
Snacksss for iOS received Mobile of the Day from The FWA, one of the largest and most well known reward sites in the industry who only give awards to the best of the best. We’ve been following The FWA for nearly 10 years now, and it is an absolute honor to see our game receive an award.
A big THANK YOU goes out to The FWA judges for giving us this awesome award, we truly appreciate it.
Cloud-based gaming has been around for years, and as someone who has been a pessimist about the future of cloud-based gaming with the regular lag I experience on YouTube alone, what I witnessed at E3 2012 this past week has forced me to re-think my position on it.
While passing through the Concourse Hall, I noticed that nVidia was showing off Hawken on two Samsung TVs, and I immediately stopped by to check it out since I’ve been looking forward to this title for some time. While looking around for the rig that was running the game, one of the nVidia employees mentioned to me that it was all being streamed directly over the net via Gaikai’s cloud service. I had to have him tell that to me again to make sure I was hearing him correctly, and sure enough, I heard him right.
I immediately grabbed the USB game controller and it was time to put this cloud service and game to the test. My immediate impression was that the service was streaming the game at a very high-quality, and the responsiveness was impressive. While looking closely, you could start to make out some compression artifacts which were caused by the varying speed of the network’s data rate – all of which were acceptable for the fast performance of the game. Overall, my conclusion was that it was something I’d absolutely buy into, assuming that it could pass the test of a standard home network connection such as DSL vs. whatever line they had at E3.
Now, how does the Gaikai service work? The amazing answer is that it can run on tablets, Smart TVs and even within a browser. Sweet, right? Now the big question.. what about the price? That was a question which even the Gaikai representative at the station could not clearly answer as apparently they do B2B partnerships with other companies such as with Meteor Entertainment and Samsung where customers do not establish a relationship with Gaikai. The price? Well, in the case of Hawken which is a F2P game, Meteor Entertainment would be covering the costs there, which makes this something even more easy for users to buy into.
Enter the future of console and PC gaming. If a service such as Gaikai can provide users with the latest in gaming content, graphics, provide accessibility and consistent performance on tablets, TVs and desktops without forcing the user to constantly buy new hardware, why would the gaming audience bother buying another console machine or upgrade their hardware to the latest and greatest just to be able to run a new PC game? I think the answer is obvious – most gamers will choose to game via the cloud.
Having said that, there are many things to take into consideration:
Cloud-based gaming is not something that I believe will replace consoles immediately, but is something that will occur slowly much like what we’ve seen with the smartphone trend with feature phones slowly fizzling out.
Bandwidth is very costly, and millions of gamers streaming games over the web will only cause more drama between content providers and the ISPs who enjoy throttling bandwidth based on usage.
HD gaming is a continuing trend, and some gamers will refuse to exchange quality for accessibility.
There’s still the obvious need to be able to game offline.
Professional gamers will refuse to play over cloud-based gaming services due to delay in control responsiveness and screen delay. I already put this to the test with our very own MLG pro, Hunter JJX, who immediately noticed a delay. Professional gamers are an entirely different breed of gamers who require wired controllers, fast refresh rates in their monitors, and buy the latest and greatest in gear to give them the edge over their competition. We’ll leave this for another blog post.
Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony thrive from exclusive first-party titles which helps drive console sales since customers are forced to buy the hardware in order to obtain access to that content. The only way around this is if users were forced to purchase subscriptions to each first-party which in turn will enable these companies to see greater returns and margins vs. the current loss they typically experience off the hardware with hopes that they’ll make it back from game sales.
Justin “Hunter JJX” Joseph giving Hawken over Gaikai a whirl
Bottom line, it’s clear that these are signs that the next generation of consoles may very well be the last of their kind – which is a bit saddening since it is so much a part of our heritage in games, but without change, we wouldn’t have email, the iPhone or Starbucks.
The last day of E3 was a great deal of fun and the most tiring by far. Outside of some great business and press meetings, I was able to get my hands on some games as well as check out some over shoulders. Here are some of my takes on them below.
Far Cry 3
Quite fun and will always be one of the best story-based FPS games on console. The co-op mode was a blast, and the mini-competitions such as the sniping competitions within co-op made it even more fun playing with friends.
Borderlands is known for its amazing art style and gameplay. It was actually my first time getting to try the game, as I believe is the same case for most FPS gamers out there. The first Borderlands was a sleeper hit. My impressions of the game were still left a bit mixed. It felt well designed, but just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
I was involved with the original Aliens vs. Predator games, so I’ve played them a lot and found that the game has a lot of similarities to the originals minus the predators, with expected hefty upgrades to gameplay and graphics which makes the game even more exciting with multiplay. The aliens also seem to be easier to control/see than before. Check out the vids below for some footage.
My friends at Konami were showing off their upcoming Facebook game, Puzzle Chasers, which showed really really well. I was absolutely shocked at the quality of artwork and gameplay, and it really is a one-of-a-kind game for Facebook. I have seen nothing like it, and that adds up to a lot of bonus points for me. I’ll definitely be playing it some when it comes out as a part of my Facebook game rotation J
I swear that I couldn’t get enough of this game so I had to go back for more. Some of my old friends and clan mates from the Quake 1 days in the 90’s came by and we trekked over to discover that Hawken was being displayed on PC at the Twitch booth… needless to say, I had a blast and I’m still really looking forward to it.
Last but not least, games I wanted to play and see but didn’t get a chance to were the new Tomb Raider, Star Trek, End of Nations, World of Warplanes, Watch Dogs, Black Ops 2, Dark Siders II, Company of Heroes II, CS: GO, The Last of Us, AC3, God of War Ascension and the new Sim City. Thank God for journalists and YouTube. J
The second day of E3 was jam packed with meetings for First Post, but before the gauntlet could begin we made a quick trip to the front of the line at the Microsoft booth to see and play Halo 4 first-hand. The game is looking amazing, and our resident pro MLG Halo player, hunter_jjx had one of the 343 Studios guys crying in despair as he was crushed non-stop. Apparently the game ended quickly for them!
Later in the day we to drop by the Nintendo booth, which, much like other big console manufacturers, had a lot of dancing games with hardcore fans being pulled up on the stage such as the below. It takes a lot of guts for people to get up on those stages for a free t-shirt
One of our last stops for the day when we were able to break free of meetings was at the PowerA booth who is working on a really cool device called MOGA for mobile which enables you to use a controller with mobile games that have support with their API, and currently supports Android, though there are some hints at other platforms to be supported soon. Very cool, and it’s about time someone made this for us gamers who want to play FPS with real controllers on our phones.
Tomorrow we have a final list of games we’ve been wanting to check out, so we’ll see if we will get a chance to play them!
We announced Snacksss earlier today at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, officially signaling the game’s release, which is just now starting to be picked up throughout the web.
Snacksss is a fast-paced physics game that challenges player reflexes and accuracy. iOS users play as Snacksss, a hungry rattlesnake that must be flung across the screen to snag his prey, keeping combos going with mid-air attacks, while evading the hunter and the hawk before time runs out. Players can also challenge their Facebook friends to top their score.
Snacksss is just one of a number of mobile and social games that we plan to release over the next months, while we’re working on a new web title for pro gamers and our upcoming flagship game which is slated for later in the year.
Day one at E3 Expo usually includes a lot of scouting to see what the big fuss is going to be about over the next few days, and this year was no different. I was able to get a chance to hit the South and West Halls 2-3 times today to both catch up with old friends and former colleagues, as well as check out the games being demo’d before having to head to several meetings.
My first stop was with Wargaming, who seems to have a booth that is becoming more and more of a monster each tradeshow event they attend. This year is still all about World of Warplanes and World of Battleships, which are two games I am really looking forward to getting my hands on. It’s a little frustrating since I won’t have the time to play both if they don’t scatter their releases. The one thing I love about Wargaming’s titles is their ability to take a ‘simulation’ style game and make it appeal to mainstream gamers, as well as provide enough depth for hardcore players.
Second stop was Trion Worlds to check out End of Nations, which is their upcoming massively multiplayer RTS game. I’ve been a fan of RTS games for many years (ever since the original Command and Conquer game that I played multiplayer over Mplayer back in 1996!), and I think that this one is going to be a lot of fun to play. I didn’t have a chance to try it today, but I’ll be heading there later to give it a whirl and to catch some video.
Third stop was SOE, who was showing off a number of new games, as well as PlanetSide 2 which is their upcoming MMOFPS. I had a chance to play it for the first time before beta. It was a blast, and it will absolutely appeal to BF3’ers like myself. I played the original quite a bit (even before I joined SOE back in 2003), and believe players are going to love the vehicle combat – they really nailed it I think. I’ll share video in another update.
Last, but not lease, my #1 most anticipated title for E3 has to be Hawken, hands-down, and I had a chance to play it live streamed using Gaikai. I was surprised by the underwhelming presence considering the amount of buzz going around in the community… I really hope this doesn’t become a sleeper hit because the game is beautiful. Hawken is simply BF3 mixed with Mechwarrior gameplay… what’s not to like about that? The Gaikai streaming was also very impressive and it was the first time trying it. The quality was there and it was very responsive. Can’t wait for the beta or to try it with a mouse and keyboard since they had a USB controller hooked up to the TV. I’ll be heading back there before the end of the show, and MAYBE we will get a 1v1 together with First Post’s very own MLG pro Halo gamer, hunter_jjx
Overall, day one was a lot of fun and big thanks to NOS for the endless supply of free energy drinks! Stay tuned for some fun vids from the show
The Making of Snacksss is a series of blog posts where we reveal what went into making the Snacksss game, from concept to a finished product on the App Store.
Over the years, even before the iPhone existed, I had always wondered what it would be like to make a simulation game where you lived the life of an animal in the wild, whether it be a bird, or even a rattlesnake. Games have always been about controlling some other character and vicariously living through them and receiving the experience as close to first-person as you can without physically being there. So, why not a game where you live as a rattlesnake?
Enter Snacksss, a concept originally born to be a simulation game, until after much thought, we realized a simulation game just isn’t quite as fun. In fact, to some it may even be a bit gruesome! The wild isn’t always all that pretty. We also wanted to make sure Snacksss was a simple and easy enough game for users to play and get a taste of before we started creating a lot of content for it. We planned on adding in a lot more features up front, but we strongly believe that community feedback is critical to a game, and because there’s nothing out there like this game, we have no examples to live by.
If my team were helping me write this blog post, they’d tell me to tell you about the combo moves in the game. When I first designed Snacksss, you moved from left to right on the screen and THEN ate your prey. You would also not be able to fly through the air but rather would need to reach up and eat a bird as it got close. Early on, I had gotten into a debate with the team on keeping it as realistic as possible, but they were so insistent on making Snacksss be able to do combo moves while in the air, that we changed the gameplay to match that. To this day, I have to admit that they were right and people are continuously raving about how much fun it is to make combos. The combo moves are a lot of fun, and we may add some more moves soon that will be even more killer.
In my next update, I’ll be co-writing with Davide Bianca, CEO of our partner studio, Saizen Media, who is responsible for art directing Snacksss and why it looks so fantastic.
Before I leave you, I’m sharing a funny image which was used as reference for the game’s depth. I’ll get some flak from the team and Davide about it. Talk about a work of art!