By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net AT the recently concluded Games Convention Asia 2008 in Singapore, the Game Development Association of the Philippines (GDAP) had another crack at promoting the Philippines as place to get services for game development and great talent. GDAP President Gabby Dizon and International Game Development Association (IGDA) Philippine Chapter Manager Ranulf Goss sat with INQUIRER.net to talk about the organization’s expectations for the GCA. Dizon, who is also president of his own company Flipside Games, said that their attendance to GCA 2008 was the second since the first GCA event in 2007. While the previous year was to let other countries know that there is a growing game development industry in the Philippines, Dizon said they aimed to strengthen the partnership that they built last year in this year's in GCA 2008. By building the relationship they have with other developments firms across Southeast Asia, they'll be able to bring in more foreign companies to work with Asian firms for various projects, he added. Dizon said that the GDAP is working hard to ensure game development firms in the Philippines are prepared to accept projects from foreign firms. So far, GDAP has 10 member companies. Dizon, however, pointed out that there are at least 20 other development firms in the Philippines. If there is one big challenge that development firms in the Philippines have, Dizon said it is the steady supply of skilled programmers and artists. Meanwhile, IGDA Philippines' Ranulf Goss said that the Philippines also needs to train talents to work for the gaming industry. He said that there is a healthy community of gamers who may want to join as game developers. Goss said that Filipinos are known for its talent and artistry in Asia. This has become known because of the local animation industry, where Filipino companies currently provide services to foreign animation firms. Both Dizon and Goss said that the industry needs more support to achieve its goals as a game development hub. They also believed that younger generation of people must also develop their skills if they want to join the game development industry.
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By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net IF there were any great equalizers in new digital media, it would be video games and piracy, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology Co-Director for Comparative Media Studies Henry Jenkins III. In an interview with hackenslash at the recently held Games Convention Asia (GCA) in Singapore, Jenkins said video games have converged different entertainment platforms that allowed producers of these contents to exercise new ways to stretch the viability of their intellectual properties. Jenkins refers to this as "transmedia strategies." Though video games started out as a stand alone entertainment platform, with stories and characters of their own, they eventually became a convergent platform. There are now tie-ups among movie studios, book and comics publishers, and music recording companies with video game developers to come up with convergent content. Jenkins said that this trend will continue on as more people who are seeking specific content find out releases regarding their favorite material, be it books, music, movies, TV series, video games, and even toys. Jenkins cited the success of the Star Wars franchise wherein George Lucas used different platforms to expand the Star Wars universe. "Lucas had podracing in the movies but people wanted to know more about it so he came out with a video game. It's this kind of market curiosity and demand that drives producers to seek other platforms to expand their creation. Video games are just the most viable," he said. On the other hand, Jenkins noted that other attempts might fall flat as producers are not familiar with how the dynamics of convergent transmedia strategies are done. One particular story is the Matrix Trilogy approach, wherein the producers relied too much on using the video game version of the Matrix as background material leading to the next two movies. The strategy flubbed as most viewers of the next two movies were not familiar with some of the references in the movies that were supposed to be included in the video game, which served as a prequel. Meanwhile, Jenkins also noted that piracy is a contentious issue but defends it as a necessity for consumers who have no access to many materials that would have been otherwise made available to them. "We're in a world where global communication allows people to know about content the minute it's released and we want to get access to it. Overtime, it may build a market. There will be enough consumer interest to break through barriers to get that content," he said. He sees piracy in two ways: that it is the only available way for developing markets to get access to materials and another is that it is a rebellious method for consumers against high prices of original material. To balance this, Jenkins said that both producers and consumers would have to reach a "moral economy" where the system of belief is that transactions are fair. Producers must know where to take their materials and where it is demanded, then decide on how to make prices more affordable without losing to piracy. Jenkins believed that users, if given the proper access point for content they want, will buy original instead of resorting to piracy. Jenkins said that many production companies are looking at different strategies to bring their content to more people and ensuring that these markets do not shift to buying pirated material. "The younger generation of executives understands the digital age more than their older counterparts. The question now is: how much influence do these younger guys have over the older guys so they could change their strategy? Once they solve that, the rest will be easier,” he said.
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net SINGAPORE – Singapore video game publisher and distributor Cherry Credits said it is launching Black Shot, a team-based, an online first-person shooter game, in the Philippines soon. Cherry Credits CEO Addison Kang said they already have a partner in the Philippines to publish the game though he did not mention the company's name. "We'll reveal it in mid-October this year when we start the close beta test. We'll do an open beta by November," Kang said. Black Shot is similar to Counterstrike in terms of game play. Most of the controls are even following the same pattern as CS. However, there are several differences such as a backpack system where players can carry more weapons and other items with them. It also has a partner system allowing team mates to share weapons and ammunition The game is developed by Korean firm Vertigo Games and published by Ntreev Soft. The game will compete with two other online FPS in the Philippines; WarRock from Amped Games and Special Force Online from Microgaming Technologies.
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net SINGAPORE -- Game developer Peter Molyneux, known as one of the pioneers in the "god game" genre of video games urged developers here to continue pushing the envelope of game development. Having been credited for making god games like the seminal Populous, Molyneux shared his past experiences, his thoughts about today's development trends, and his company’s new project that he claimed will be a big surprise for gamers. Molyneux has been in the business of creating “god games,” which lets players act as a divine or omniscient entity controlling the creation of an entire world that can affect units in a make-believe, virtual world. Speaking during the Games Convention Asia 2008 here, the soft spoken Molyneux said he has seen a lot of changes in the way games are developed -- not just on the programming but also on the business aspect of developing games. He admitted that he missed the days when developers could talk freely about a game they are creating. Today, he said that development firms and publishers are legally bound not to mention anything about a current project. Nevertheless, he understood the virtue of silence especially in this multi-billion dollar game development industry. With over three decades of work as a game developer, Molyneux is among the who’s who in the gaming industry present in the Game Conventions Asia 2008. Molyneux is known for creating the game Populous in the late 1980s. This set the trend for future god games, which incidentally were followed up by Molyneux's later works, such as the Black & White series and Fable series. These games were designed by Lionhead Studios, which he founded in 1997. Several gaming journalists were able to catch up with the busy Molyneux who was more than willing to share some points about his experiences as a developer and also to point out the changes in the game development business. "When games start costing millions of dollars to make and the experiments and inventions you're working on are the lifeblood of those games and they take so long to develop, it's not surprising that some sensible person turn around and say, ‘Peter for goodness sake, there's so much you can lose by saying these things.’ It's just this industry is growing up," he said. On the question on the growing complexity of games, Molyneux said the difficulty of creating games remains high even now with availability of off-the-shelf development tools, which he dubbed middleware. Making the game Fable 2 (to be launched in October for the Xbox 360), for instance, he said that his development team used a lot of middleware, which made it easier for them to make it more complex and immersive. He even considered middleware as a foundation tool for developers who can focus more on making a game more compelling. "So I look back and it seems to me, it's always been equally hard to make a game. I used to have to write keyboard drivers, now you have to invent AI (artificial intelligence) systems on top of navigation system. It becomes complex but it stays the same. I've never met a single developer who turned to me and said, ‘it's easier now,’" he said. Even while working as head of Lionhead Studios, Molyneux still missed being a programmer where he spent writing codes for 20 hours a day. He missed the days when his only nourishment were sodas and boxes of pizzas strewn around his computer. "I miss the ridiculously childish way of developing games by just having ideas, throwing them in, and seeing if they work. But the interesting thing is I probably enjoy making games now than back then,” he said. Younger generation of developers is finding it more exciting to make games now, especially with all the tools available. Molyneux said he sees a lot of passion and dedication among developers now but he advised that the most important thing to remember is there is not a single piece of game design that does not need to be changed. He said game developers must challenge the norms and to keep reinventing. "It's that invention of something new and different the people really want. Everyone wants something new and they haven't felt before. And that is where the world is going to. And that's the thing that young generation should come in and they should say, ‘No that's not the way. This is how we're going to do it,’" Molyneux said. Molyneux disclosed that his team at Lionhead is currently working on a new project that is based on an experiment that his company has been doing for years. Molyneux, however, wanted to keep this project a secret. He did not disclose the date or platform it has been set to play. He promised, however, that it will be "an amazing breakthrough."
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net SINGAPORE -- The first day of the Games Convention Asia (GCA) 2008 has shown how big the size of the gaming market is for Asia. People trickled in to see the latest games from Electronic Arts (EA), Ubisoft, Crytek. Apart from displays of game peripherals for console games and the PC, Asian gaming companies were also here to showcase games they have developed. Also, several companies were preparing to launch titles for the Asian markets during the event. Notable is EA, which showcased a new lineup of online games specifically targeting the Asian market. In this year's convention, known game developers and publishers are being lined up to share their experiences. Among them are Lionhead Studios Founder Peter Molyneux (Populus, Black & White, Fable), Crytek President Cevat Yerli (FarCry, Crysis), Ubisoft Creative Director Michael de Plater (Tom Clancy's EndWar), Massachusetts Institute of Technology Co-Director Henry Jenkins III. Even with more online games being featured, I noticed that console titles still take center stage this year as titles for Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation 3 are being showcased at the event. One of the highlights in this year's event are talks given by game development and publishing experts on different topics addressing the industry, including human resource, animation design, storyboard writing, mobile gaming and even virtual economies. GCA is expecting to accommodate over 100,000 game enthusiasts, developers and publishers from across Asia. Wolfgang Marzin, chief executive officer of Liepziger Messe International, which is organizing the event, said Asia is a major market for gaming, be it console or the hugely popular online gaming sector. He said Asia's gaming industry will continue to grow as more people see gaming as an equally suitable form of entertainment along with TV and movies. "We want this region in the world to grow and make gaming an important industry," Marzin said.