It was an early start for us here at GGUK, as we were heading to Edinburgh Interactive 2010, to attend the two day press event being held at the Edinburgh film house on the 25th and 26th of August. This is almost the tenth year of the event, which is held as part of the fringe festival and incorporates all things to do with the games industry. This year would see a partnership with the Television Festival, which is also ran at the same time in the capital.
This yearâ€™s event looked to be a bumper line-up featuring a mix of people and talent from across the industry, such as Ray Maguire, Egor Pusenjak and Jerry Johnson. There was also a full schedule of game screenings to take place over the two days. So the stage was set for a bumper event which was all set to kick off at twelve oâ€™clock on Wednesday.
With great excitement we arrived in Edinburgh and made our way to the venue. We were a bit early, but there was coffee and tea available on arrival. While we were having a brew, we ran into old friends of the GGUK, Dave â€œMidiâ€ Whitelaw and Kai â€œDeadmans Bootsâ€ Holmstrom from Sonics Ring in the lobby. They were there to cover the event for their infamous podcast. So after a chat it was time to take our seats ready for the show to start.
Chris Deering, the chairman of the Edinburgh Interactive Festival, opened the event with an introduction of what was planned for the first day and how the industry has changed in the last twelve months. After this brief introduction Ray Maguire, CEO of Sony Entertainment Europe, was first to get the ball rolling with a presentation about how 3-D technology is going to be implemented in gaming and the family home in the future. The talk started with a history of how 3-D technology has changed in the past forty years and also how Sony were using shutter technology to bring the experience to the home. The big bonus from this talk was the announcement that we would be able to play both GT5 and Kill Zone 3 later at the event.
After this there were two talks based on finance and marketing. One of these talks was chaired by Sean Dromgoole, who is CEO of â€œSome Research and Games Visionâ€. He is an analyst who looks at stats and figures on trends in the gaming community. The second talk was by Paul Heydon of â€œAviste Partnersâ€. He was there to talk about the growth and sales in the market. These two talks were heavy on the figures and graphs and were more aimed at the games companies that were attending the event. But they were an interesting insight into a side of the games industry that is rarely discussed in the public eye.
After a short break the next talk was from Doodle Jump co-creator Egor Pusenjak, president and founder of Lima Sky. He was here to talk about how he made one of the most successful games on the iPhone and how budding designers would go about publishing their games on the App Store. This was a very interesting talk because he spoke about his roots and how he and his brother first made a Bubble Wrap App and a Tic Tac Toe App at the begging of the iPhone phenomenon. He then told how they designed and developed Doodle Jump and how it wasnâ€™t a big seller at the start. But they created a lot of hype behind their game and the celebrity world picked up on the game and this drove sales up. Everyone from pop stars to talk show hosts play Doodle Jump. This in turn helped secure him and his brother the Apple Design Award and cement the game as one of the greatest, yet simplest designed games on the App store. When asked if there would be a sequel, he said that the game is always evolving and the game doesnâ€™t really need a sequel because it receives updates so often. These are key to keeping the game fresh and it never becomes boring for its huge fan base. It was a bit of a shock to discover that Apple take 30% of their profit from every unit sold, which just makes you realise how much of a success the game is.
The final panel was the Great Debate, which takes place every year at the festival and sees some heavy hitters of the industry battle it out over a topic. This year saw the debate being fought over whether developers really needed publishers to publish their games. It was chaired by the legendary Ian Livingston and saw Egor Pusenjak and Nicholas Lovell fighting in the corner for the pros and in the corner for against we saw Chris Deering and Tom McDonnell slugging it out over the debate. Each team had four minutes to have their say and then the audience had one minute to add to it with their views. After an intense fight it was a unanimous landslide for the against team, who took victory and cemented the fact that developers will always need publishers to help them reach a wider audience, to secure advertising and to pitch ideas to companies.
After this the show opened to the public and the game screenings began in the evening. First out the blocks was a show reel from the guys at Codemasters showing some up and coming games. They began with F1 2010 which, from the looks of the trailer, is shaping up very well. After that there was a quick trailer for the new Dirt game which seems to have dropped the Colin McRae name from the title and is just called Dirt 3. It looks like it has raised the bar yet again for rally games.
The next screening on show was a real crowd puller at the event and was looking to be a highlight of this yearâ€™s show. Nick Burton, director of developments at Rare studios, was going to talk about Kinect sports which is one of the launch titles for Kinect when it hits the shops this coming November. But he also was going to demo the game to the crowd and even let some of the crowd get up on stage and have a go at the game and experience Kinect themselves first hand.
Nick started the screening showing how Rare have always been at the cutting edge of new consoles and launch games. Then he went on to show how Kinect has changed the way the studio has had to think about games and how they build games, showing early prototypes of how Kinect detects the player and how they had to refine the control system of the game yo be simpler but still enjoyable.
He went on to demo the game, first showing the football game and how Kinect reads the players moves and translates them into the game. The key to the gameplay is three rules, which are defend, attack and pass, and with these three moves the game plays at a constant fluid speed. Then he began to ask the crowd who would like a go at Kinect sports which immediately saw hands fill the air in excitement. The first lucky person to get picked got to play football and just showed how easy the game is to pick up and play. Then another member of the crowd got to play the long jump which uses a totally different control method from the football game and sees the player running on the spot and then having to leap upwards into the air to see how far they can get. This looks like a very tiring game but very funny to watch others play.
Then luck would have it that I was picked to go on the stage and play a game. What game I was going to play from the collection in Kinect sports was not clear until I got on stage and found out it was the bowling game. So with great excitement I got to stand in front of Kinect. Everyone who plays Kinect for the first time has their very own Kinect moment, so I was waiting to see what happened and it took all of forty-five seconds for me to realise just how revolutionising Kinect truly is, as it is like nothing else I have ever played. It is so intuitive that you donâ€™t have to try to play, it just comes naturally. It was a bit weird to start with when I was bowling, having played other games such as Wii Bowling where to release the ball you press a button. With Kinect there are no buttons so the releasing is based on the movement of your hand, as if you were bowling for real. I got to play about five frames and loved every minute of it and I can truly say that I was converted into a believer of Kinect and its controler-less gameplay and can see it being the future of how we play games.
So with that, Day one comes to a close and what a day it was with some great talks and also being able to get hands on with Kinect, which was by far the stand out moment of the show so far.We couldnâ€™t wait for the next day which was shaping up to be another packed schedule.