Did you miss anything?
Another Game Developer's Conference has come and gone, and whoa boy, are we spent. You've probably already waded through our countdown of 24 of the most interesting things we learned at GDC, but that accounts for just a fraction of the hours of panels and dozens of games that we experienced.
Realistically, you had to be there to get all there was to get. That said, here's a grab-bag of many of the other sights we saw. Some you may already know, but some you most definitely do not. Enjoy!
Thief (Eidos Montreal)
Garrett's returning to gaming in 2014, sneaking into the next-generation with absurdly beautiful graphics and awesome stealth gameplay. We've seen it in action, and while it takes some liberties with the traditional Thief formula, it still looks like it should scratch the "sneaking into a building and taking a bunch of stuff" itch.
As we explained in our Thief preview, the new game will still feature many of the tenants of the franchise. While you'll totally be able to play the game as a murderous psychopath, the option to play as a true thief is intact, and you can complete the entire game without killing a single person.
Is there a tactful way to say this? Probably not: Luftrausers has the vibe of a game created by an SS officer in Nazi Germany. In a good way! An aerial combat game with dreary, yet eerily appropriate beige tones and a pulsing techno beat, Luftrausers sees players manning a versatile and agile aircraft that can be armed with a variety of bullet-hell spouting projectiles. You play to survive in an environment where the ocean below can kill you, the sky above can kill you, and the needling opposing aircraft can kill you. It's hostile, yet extremely good fun.
Options are what separate the PSN version from the browser-based free edition (which you can go ahead and play right now if you so desire). Weapons range from your standard machine gun to a death-ray laser, and the ship itself can be modified with pro-and-con armor and engine refinements. As of right now, the free version's controls feel much more responsive than the PSN version, though there's still time to make tweaks before the game's spring release.
Hokra (Ramiro Corbetta)
Johann Sebastian Joust has received the lion's share of the attention from Sony's four-game Sportsfriend compilation, and that's an extreme disservice to Hokra. As with Joust, Hokra is a party game at its core, with the optimal experience had with four players. It's a sports game in the same way Pong can be considered a sports game, where two players face off against two others to capture and maintain control of a 1 pixel by 1 pixel-sized ball (square?) within their own goals.
The action is fun and intense. By jamming on the X button, players can give the cubes they control speed bursts (at the expense of mobility). These speed bursts can be used to capture the inertia-driven puck, yes, but also to body-check and temporarily stun an opposing player. The X button can also be used to pass the puck to your teammate, should your opponents have you cornered.
Star Drive (Zero Sum Games)
We hadn't heard much about Zero Sum Games' Star Drive before seeing it, but after getting hands-on with the game we're hyped for its impending release. The indie game is part Sid Meier's Civilization and part Mass Effect--you'll cruise around the galaxy expanding your race's reach as you attempt to unify (or destroy) the other races that inhabit space using a 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) style of gameplay. What kind of races? Well, that samurai space bear in the image above is one of them, and the others are just as amazing and ridiculous.
The developer cites Master of Orion 2 as inspiration, but it's a much more advanced game. You can customize your space ships, launch armies, terraforming planets, and do everything else you'd hope to do in space. Essentially, it's Civilization: FTL edition, and that's enough to have us anxious.
Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov's Revenge (Frima Studio)
The RTS genre is notoriously difficult to pull off on any system other than the PC--just ask StarCraft 64. But Zombie Tycoon 2, the PS Vita / PSN sequel to the original PSP game, prioritizes simplicity above all else, making for a fun undead (fundead?) real-time strategy romp. There's no base-building or intense micromanagement to fret over; you primarily control a small army of zombies using nothing more than the face buttons and the d-pad. The former gives commands to your four unit types, each assigned to their own button, while the latter activates the four powerful abilities of your hero unit (not unlike your typical MOBA).
It's all caked in a heap of cartoony humor, as your zombie horde plows through pitiful human targets like feeble cops and obese rednecks. You'll also be able to recruit new zombie types by capturing buildings on the surprisingly large maps, giving you access to such goofy undead warriors as zombie samurai and decaying Muai Thai kickboxers.
Metrico (Digital Dreams)
If someone told us they were making a game that mashed-up Prince of Persia with spreadsheets, we would've chortled a hearty chortle. But then we saw the trailer for Metrico, and all skepticism flew out the window like a feather on a blustery day. Though we didn't get the chance to see a full level's worth of gameplay, the premise is intriguingly trippy: You're the smoothly animated silhouette of a white-collar stiff who must traverse a terrifying, infographic-themed obstacle course made up of pie charts and bar graphs come to life.
Trust us--it may sound boring to the unimaginative ear, but this is one PS Vita game to watch. The use of colorful vector backgrounds and expense reports as treacherous terrain is a sight to behold, and the bumping '80s jams only makes matters better. It's PoP meets Another World meets a Powerpoint presentation on company earnings, and it looks psychedelic as all get-out.
Lost Orbit (Pixelnauts)
Pixelnauts is creating an interesting vertical-scrolling space title called Lost Orbit, and we got to see an early version of the game during this year's GDC. The fast-paced platformer puts you in control of Harrison, an astronaut who has become stranded in the giant vacuum of space. To get back home, he'll need to use his space suit's jetpack and the help of the wide variety of celestial bodies to propel himself through each stage.
Harrison will come across multiple planet types, ranging from standard planets the astronaut can orbit or skim through the atmosphere for a speed boost to fire, water, and ice planets. Orbiting one of the element-themed worlds gives Harrison that planet's attributes, lighting him on fire to melt ice barriers, or dowsing said flames in a water planet. Sound interesting? Get all the details in our Lost Orbit preview.
Dragons and Titans (Wyrmbyte)
Late in April, Dragons and Titans will release exclusively on Facebook. While we typically don't cover Facebook games, this one is definitely worth paying attention to. It's a League of Legends-style MOBA, where you ride dragons and try to destroy your enemy's base. Yes. You ride dragons. In a MOBA. And it's awesome.
We played through a match--which took about 15 minutes--and slowly learned how much different riding dragons makes things. Holding back means you actually fly backwards, letting you change the way you navigate the map and attack foes. It also has an atypical way of letting you choose your skills, allowing you to pick a dragon and a weapon, both of which will give you new abilities.
Ibb & Obb (Sparpweed)
Do you fancy yourself to be skilled at platformers? Got a buddy who's no slouch at 2D run-'n'-jumps? Good--because mere logical thinking won't get you far in this cutesy puzzle platformer, Ibb & Obb. Co-op is the basis for every obstacle you'll encounter, and the solutions usually involve giving each other a boost or clearing the way ahead of enemies. But to make things a bit more complicated, the world has been divided by colored clouds, some of which your pink or green protagonist can't pass through. Oh, and most of these areas have reversed gravity. And require precise timing to pass through unharmed.
It's way harder than it looks, and you'd never guess this game's devious challenge from a glance. Perhaps your mind might've solved the puzzle of how to progress to the next area, but if your fingers can't manage the timing or you can't work with your partner as a coordinated team, it's back to the beginning. If anything could spur you to put two hands around your buddy's neck and squeeze tightly, it's Ibb & Obb.
Velocity Ultra (FuturLab)
If you missed the original Velocity when it first released as a PlayStation Mini game, that's both good and bad. Bad, because you didn't get the chance to experience it's energetic, vertically scrolling space shooting and retro style infused with new-school mechanics like ship teleportation. Good, as you're about to get all that with a spiffy Ultra version on PS Vita, complete with some kickin' graphical upgrades and touch-screen functionality for said teleportation powers.
It may seem simple at first, but chasing after high-scores and Perfect rankings will put your ship-steering, turret-shooting skills to their limit. What would be a dead-end in any other scrolling shmup is merely a hurdle in Velocity Ultra, forcing you to teleport through it and deal with whatever's on the other side. It's a new kind of space shooter experience--which is saying a lot, considering that this sub-genre has seen what feels like billions of iterations.
Stealth games usually encourage players to be invisible and avoid detection--to be a ghost. If you've had trouble making that happen in other games, it won't be a problem in Sony Japan's Rain because... well... you can't see the main character. In Rain, you play as a lost boy who has become trapped in a strange, urban world full of monsters and you have to find the way out.
While your character can't be seen with the naked eye, you can see the water bouncing off his shoulders from the constant downpour, see objects move when you collide with them, and see puddles splash with every step. These aspects of the character play into the environment puzzles, forcing you to come up with creative ways to distract enemies and manipulate the environment to bypass barriers. To find out more about the game check out our Rain preview.
Treachery in Beatdown City (NuChallnger LLC)
Tactical beat-'em-up. Sound crazy? Well, it kind of is. On the surface, Treachery in Beatdown City is clearly a throwback to the days of Double Dragon, with graffitied, rundown, pixelated inner-city environments and mohawked, tattooed enemies. Dig deeper, though, and you'll find a complex fighting system that draws inspiration from the cult classic Fire Pro Wrestling and your early-era Final Fantasy RPGs.
The action is somewhat complicated to explain, but easily mastered in practice. Each of the game's three characters has a predetermined set of moves. Some moves hit for light damage to weaken onscreen ruffians, while others are meant as finishers. These moves draw from a pool of action points, which regenerates over time. The game flow then becomes a matter of executing your attacks, and then evading whilst your action points regenerate. It's a decidedly slower experience than your average beat-'em-up, and we're eager to see how the combat sustains itself over the course of the game.
Puppeteer (SCE Studios Japan)
Sony's upcoming platformer Puppeteer is definitely one of the most visually impressive games we saw at 2013's Game Developer's Conference. Set on a magical puppet stage, you play as a puppet attempting to escape a bleak, medieval world controlled by the Moon Bear King. Along the way you'll pick up a giant pair of magical scissors, which can be used to snip fabric and other materials to solve puzzles.
Puppeteer makes you pay particular attention to the level's backgrounds. Since the entire game takes place on a small puppet stage, as you move through the environments, the set pieces shift to new settings in a Transformer-esque morphing sequences. If you want to find out more, be sure to check out our full Puppeteer preview.
Disney Infinity (Disney Interactive)
The Skylanders games have already taken the toy-collector/gamer market by storm, but Disney is also taking a crack at the action-figure/video game mash-up. Enter Disney Infinity, an adventure game that takes players into the worlds of popular Disney IPs like Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters University, Cars, and The Incredibles using a Power Base figure reader, data saving character figures, and collectible power disks.
The game is broken up into two sections: the Playsets and the Toybox. The Playsets take you through a story set in one of the Disney worlds, letting you play as the heroes from those worlds. The gameplay ranges from straight action platforming to pirate ship battles on the high seas. The Toybox mashes all of the Playsets together world editor in which you can build your own environments, create games, and generally just fool around with all of the items and set-pieces you see in the game. Get all of the details in our Disney Infinity preview.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Traveller's Tales)
The Lego series continues to get bigger and better, and after getting a chance to see the newest entry, we feel that Lego Marvel Super Heroes has a chance to be the biggest and best of them all. Featuring over 100 characters, the game looks like a dream come true for fans of Spider Man, Iron Man, Deadpool, and many of the other beloved tight-wearing heroes (and villains) of the Marvel universe.
Most surprising of all, though, is how good it looks. When Hulk smashes apart bricks they fall to the ground realistically, and get kicked around as Iron Man blasts foes with his repulser blast. We can't wait.
Divekick (OTG Studios)
What started out as a parody of the fighter genre has evolved into quite the nonsensical cult hit. Forget what you know about four- or six-button layouts--this one-on-one kick-'em-up uses two buttons to simulate the intensity of a Rufus-versus-Yun standoff full of downward-angled calcitrations. Aka, jump in the air and divekick until somebody dies--which in this particular fighter only takes one single, million-point-damaging hit.
But don't let the limited moveset fool you: As with any great fighting game, there's a remarkable amount of depth hiding just underneath the two-button simplicity. That's thanks in part to the diverse cast of fighting foot fetishists, each with their own tricks and kick velocity. As of right now, we think no kicker can hold a candle to Dr. Shoals, a fembot who can hover in the air to deliver the perfectly timed foot to your dome.
Dragon's Prophet (Sony Online Entertainment)
Sony Online Entertainment is making a new MMO, and this one deals with dragons...lots of dragons. Probably the coolest thing about the game is that you won't just be battling the flamethrowing lizards, you can tame them and keep them as pets. Dragon's Prophet has all of the standard MMO tropes of multiple player classes, character and dragon progression, and social features like guilds and player-versus-player combat. Then there are the developer's future plans to include aerial combat to the game, which sounds particularly interesting.
The developers also gave us a quick overview of their crafting and how your dragons can help you outside of battle. With crafting, you'll be able to learn alchemy, forge armor, and create weapons, but to find the resources, you won't necessarily have to scour the countryside for copper ore nodes--that's what your dragon is for. Your pet acts like a companion in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and will do some of the tedious actions for you. Couple that with a full progression system for your dragon with a customizable skill set, and you get an intriguing dynamic between player and beast.
Magicka Wizard Wars (Paradox North)
At GDC we took a look at an early version of the dedicated, player-versus-player title Magicka: Wizard Wars. The new game focuses entirely on the multiplayer aspect of the original and hopes to expand the mode into a full-fledged multiplayer offering with four-versus-four team matches and multiple game modes.
Players will have all of the familiar magic abilities from the original game, challenging players to use spell combos to counter enemy attacks and bypass defenses. You'll also be able to customize your wizard with new outfits that play off the idea of the world's wizards all converging to one location to burn each other to cinders. So, expect to see wizards inspired by Asian monks, Egyptian priests, and even scurvy pirates.
In many games, the background music can easily go unnoticed. Developer Threaks music-adventure game Beatbuddy weaves its jazzy beats and instrumentals directly into the gameplay. The entire game takes place in 2D, underwater tunnels filled with spiky traps, enemies, and other dangers. As you travel through the caves, you'll hear muffled music in the background that will quickly turn into an interactive song as you encounter musical bass drum plants, crab hi-hats, and underwater creatures playing the brass.
Each level takes you through a lengthy swing-style song starting with a simple bass tempo and eventually exploding into a full blown chorus that will have you tapping your foot in an attempt to get past the rhythm-based puzzles. Simply, reading about the game certainly doesn't do it justice. Beatbuddy is definitely a game you should experience first hand.
Leisure Suit Larry (Replay Games)
Leisure Suit Larry can be quite foul, but you can't say he doesn't ever think of the children's well being. Even before the ESRB was telling us which games were rated M for mature, Leisure Suit Larry developers took it upon themselves to implement their own age-gate--an age determining quiz. For the remake, Replay Games is bringing back the traditional game with all new updates, innuendos, quiz questions and all.
The point-and-click adventure game is coming back with all new art and plenty of other refinements like a redone musical score, and an Angry Broads minigame (which plays like Angry Birds). At this year's GDC, we met with the developers to check out the game, and it looks like Larry aged very well in the last few decades. Hide the ladies because Larry is back on the prowl on May 15th on PC, Mac, mobile devices, Ouya, and XBLA.
Loadout (Edge of Reality)
In a shooter, sometimes it doesn't matter how many new guns you unlock, or how many attachments you can use to personalize your firearm. It never feels quite like building a completely customized weapon from scratch. So, developer Edge of Reality decided to give players that option in their free-to-play, third-person shooter Loadout.
The online multiplayer shooter lets you bring your personal weapon creations into four game types, including warped versions of capture point and capture-the-flag. With nearly eight million weapon combinations, it really seems like you can create whatever weapon you like. Everything from the gun's stock, trigger, and barrel are customizable, and whether it shoots bullets, electricity, fire, giant rockets, six-homing rockets, or healing goo (the list goes on), it's completely up to you. Also, it's extremely gruesome and vulgar (like testicles hanging out of Speedos vulgar)...so there's that.
Suda51's 2014 action game
Killer is Dead isn't the only game Suda51 had to talk about during GDC. In a closed-door meeting, the noted game designer confirmed to us that he was teaming up with GungHo on a new project for consoles. Unfortunately, beyond showing three pieces of concept art, Suda was less than forthcoming on what gamers can expect from the project.
Here's what we know: It'll be an action game set in the near future starring a, you guessed it, sexy female protagonist. Though the game isn't set in Japan per se, characters within the game will have a Japanese influence. Thanks to his partnership with GungHo, Suda also said that the game will have unique online features--cryptically stated as a co-op mode that isn't quite co-op. Whatever it is, it'll be out next year and Suda plans to talk more about the game in September at TGS.
Anomaly 2 (11bit Studios)
The first Anomaly made waves for flipping the script of the tower defense genre, tasking you with guiding the attackers to victory against stationary turrets. Anomaly 2 keeps that same addictive hook and expands it, with some awesome--and wholly unexpected--additions. Yknow, things like double-clicking any of your units to on-the-fly morph them, Transformers-style, into an entirely different vehicle. Or a full-featured, asymmetrical multiplayer mode that pits the standard squad of attackers against player-controlled alien towers of laser-blasting doom.
You can read about the details of this humans-versus-aliens death march in our full Anomaly 2 preview, but suffice it to say that were pretty excited for this indie sequel. The graphics are slick, the controls are new and improved, and the additional vehicle modes offer an entirely novel layer of strategy to managing your squadron makeup.
With Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag anchored in our minds, weve got a hankering for some pirate ship warfare. So why not scratch that seafaring, swashbuckling itch with a free-to-play, pirate-themed naval combat game? Kartuga is an in-browser maritime shootout with a focus on co-op PvP, much like the team-based melees of World of Tanks or League of Legends.
Choosing from one of three classes and over 20 customizable ships, youll sail into cannon-based battles against teams of rival pirates in deathmatch and domination modes, set in tropical, arena-like ports. For those who havent found their sea legs, a moderate amount of PvE content will prepare you for the scurvy dogs youll face in the open PvP waters. Also of note is the environment--instead of recycling a played-out Caribbean setting, Kartuga gets creative with Mayan, Far East, and Mediterranean designs for its ships and set pieces.
DUST 514 (CCP)
Why should you be excited about Dust 514, CCP's upcoming MMO first-person shooter? Because it's the only MMO out there to connect with the world and economy of another, EVE Online. Currently, Dust is in open beta and can be downloaded (and played) for free on your PS3; but as of now, it's hindered by lackluster visuals and some needlessly confusing interfaces. According to the developers, all that is about to change.
A new build, dubbed Uprising, will launch on May 6 this year (to coincide with EVE's 10th anniversary), and it'll introduce a bevy of changes to the free-to-play online shooter. In addition to cleaner menus that are easier to understand, you can also expect better graphics and more stable frame rates. Also being introduced are a few new modes, weapons, and gear. The most exciting new element, though, has to be the launch of Planetary Conquest, which will finally let EVE and Dust players use their corporations to fight for territorial control in a persistent world.
GDC was awesome this year. We were able to check out dozens of amazing indie games, a bunch of current-gen AAA titles, and a few next-gen demos that reminded us of how excited we were for the next-generation of consoles. What do you think the coolest thing from the show was? Let us know in the comments!