Develop Magazine's annual list of the top 100 best developers in the world has been released, and some of the top twenty choices are interesting. For example 2D Boy and ZeptoLab break into the top five, While Nintendo takes the top spot and Blizzard comes in at number five behind SCE Santa Monica. The list is available on Develop's web site and in the June issue of the magazine - on newsstands.
Some other interesting tidbits from this year's list: over half are iOS developers, more independent studios made the cut this year, over 30 of the listed studios had major retail hits, and more countries are represented than previous years.
Below are the top 20:
The official call for nominations for the second annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards at GDC Online in Austin are now open. Developer types can nominate their favorite online, social, and massively multiplayer online games for various awards.
The awards include such categories as Online Game Design, Social Network Games, Live Games, Visual Arts, Technology, and Community Relations. To be eligible, nominees had to have been launched during the May 2010 – May 2011 time period in North America. All game development professionals holding an active Gamasutra.com user account can nominate a game at www.GDCOnlineAwards.com.
The full list, along with a description of each, follows:
A former U.S. Navy pilot says that a video game gave him a grand mal seizure that caused him to lose his flight status. John Ryan McLaughlin says he was playing the game Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion when "strobe lights" within the game (we assume he means bright multi-colored, flashing lights) gave him "a grand mal seizure for the first time in his life," causing excruciating pain and breaking a bone. The former F-18 pilot, says the seizures caused him to permanently lose his flying status.
He is suing Bethesda Softworks and its corporate parent, Zenimax Media, and Sony Computer Entertainment, which makes the Playstation 3. He apparently suffered the inuries on March 28, 2010. McLaughlin claims that the seizures were caused by the "defective product."
Grants are now available from the National Endowment for the Arts grants for a variety of video game related projects. This is due in part to an expansion of the agency's Arts on Radio and Television category, which has been renamed "Arts in Media." The change expands the category to include mobile technology, digital games and a variety of gaming platforms.
NEA grants are available to help with various costs such as development, production and distribution and range from $10,000 to $200,000, based on the complexity of the project submission.
September 1 is the deadline for submissions, which can be made via the NEA site.
Source: Serious Games Source
The International Game Developers Association posted a lengthy criticism of the recently launched Android App Store after its distribution terms and profit sharing requirements were revealed. The post, which was signed by "The IGDA Board of Directors," lists serious concerns the trade group has with the terms Amazon wants developers to accept before selling an app. Speaking to developers, the IGDA warned that Amazon reserves the right to control the pricing of games and the right to pay "the greater of 70 percent of the purchase price or 20 percent of the List Price."
PopCap's new experimental studio, 4th & Battery, tried to launch its first title, an iOS game called Unpleasant Horse, on the Apple App Store. Unpleasant Horse is described as a colorful platformer where players bounce from cloud to cloud and on to the backs of flying ponies, who are sent plummeting to a gruesome demise because of badly placed meat grinders. Apparently, the free mature-themed game was a little too gruesome for Apple's taste. Apple rejected the app from the store, but PopCap's new studio is apparently appealing the decision.
A comical tweet on the studio's Twitter feed earlier today read "WTF? Apple rejected Unpleasant Horse cuz of 'mature content'? We thought horses dying in meat grinders was wholesome family entertainment!"
That post disappeared later in the day and was replaced with: "We're appealing, though (with a higher rating) and we'll hopefully have good news for y'all soon!"
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser weighed in on whether games are art and if the studio responsible for Grand Theft Auto will ever switch gears and create movies instead of games. The question is a viable one as more details emerge about its latest project LA Noire. Frankly, LA Noire is as close to being a movie production as you can get the way Houser describes it:
"The game, like many of our recent games, has been an absolutely enormous production," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "With 'L.A. Noire,' we employed a massive number of actors in the game – over 400 – along with hair and make-up artists, a great television director, and as the game is set in the golden era of Hollywood, a lot of original costumes, props and other research from the studios themselves."
K2 Network, owner of Reloaded Productions, will be opening a studio in Edinburgh, Scotland thanks to funding from Scottish Development International. SDI gave K2 Network £125,000 to open a new 22-man studio to continue operating APB Reloaded in the region. Prior to selling APB and closing its doors, Realtime Worlds operated the game and other projects out of the region. K2 Network may use the new studio as its base in Europe as well.
If you have ever wondered why graphics on consoles look better than most PC graphics, AMD has an answer for you: DirectX. AMD worldwide developer relations manager Richard Huddy blames Microsoft's SDK for not being able to utilize the horsepower of today's graphics processors.
"It's funny," says Huddy. "We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it's very clear that the games don't look ten times as good. To a significant extent, that's because, one way or another, for good reasons and bad - mostly good, DirectX is getting in the way."
Huddy adds that developers often ask him to make that API just go away.
One BioWare fan who might have said the wrong thing on an official forum found himself in an awkward situation. After saying what some might deem a derogatory statement in an official BioWare forum, user v_ware found that he couldn't play Dragon Age II. What is odd about this is that Dragon Age II is not a multiplayer game. One of the reasons this may have happened is because forum accounts are connected to game registrations, and v_ware tried to register the game after he was suspended.
Still, it seems like a very odd situation to everyone; why would BioWare stop someone from playing a game they just bought even if that individual received a temporary ban on one of their forums? It's plain silliness. The ban made it so that v_ware couldn't play Dragon Age II for 72 hours. So what did he say that was so horrible?
The recent layoffs at LEGO Universe make a little more sense today as studio owner Gazillion announces that it has sold the rights to the game and the Louisville, Colorado studio developing it. The majority of LEGO Universe development team members, formerly part of Gazillion's NetDevil subsidiary, have been offered employment by the LEGO Group, who will continue game development and operations from the current Louisville, Colorado studio.
"We're excited about the launch of LEGO Universe, and are happy to have the developers officially join the LEGO team," said Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President at the LEGO Group. "This acquisition demonstrates our commitment both to the ongoing success of LEGO Universe and to an overall strategy to expand our brand online."
2K Games and Gearbox Software announced that the PC version of Duke Nukem Forever will use Valve's Steamworks as its DRM solution. This means that the game will be intimately tied to your Steam account. More from Gearbox Community manager Chris Faylor (via the company's official forum):
"2K Games and Gearbox Software today officially announced that the PC release of Duke Nukem Forever will incorporate Steamworks.
What does this mean for you?
It means that regardless of where or how you buy Duke Nukem Forever on PC, your purchase will be tied to your Steam account, ensuring that you'll always be able to install a copy of the game even if you lose your disc. "
Later in the thread Faylor confirms that Steamworks will be the only DRM used with the game.
Duke Nukem Forever releases May 3 in the United States and on May 6 internationally.
The 2011 Game Developers Choice Awards will honor Peter Molyneux, co-founder of Bullfrog Productions and founder of Lionhead Studios, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the "art and science of games."
Though Molyneux has taken his fair share of lumps in recent years for over-promising on his Fable series, he has nonetheless had an influence on the industry for decades by creating innovative and fun games such as Theme Park, Syndicate, Populous, Magic Carpet, Black & White, and Dungeon Keeper.
Molyneux was chosen as this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient by the Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, which includes game industry notables such as Doug Lombardi (Valve), Mark Cerny (Cerny Games), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Raph Koster (Metaplace), Julien Merceron (Square Enix), John Vechey (PopCap), and Clint Hocking (LucasArts).
The Humble Indie Bundle 2 has upped the ante for those who want a whole bunch of cool independently developed PC games at a decent price. Now those that buy the Indie Bundle 2 can get all the games from Indie Bundle 1. The only catch is that you will have to pay the average price currently listed on the site. Still, that is a little over $10 for over 11 games.
Collectively the games include Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, Revenge of the Titans, World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD, Penumbra Overture, and Samfrost 2.
So far, the Indie Game Bundle 2 has raised $1.5 million for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play charities. Get in on the action here.
Game industry veteran Brent Knowles has joined the Empire Avenue team today. Empire Avenue is a social stock market game where users trade shares in each other. Empire Avenue says that Knowles "will be working closely with Empire Avenue to further refine, enhance and generally totally-awesomeify its ever-so-addictive Social Stock Market Game."
Knowles is a former BioWare developer, who most recently served as the Lead Designer and Creative Director on the studio’s action-RPG, Dragon Age: Origins. Knowles other credits include Co-Lead Designer on Neverwinter Nights, Lead Designer on the Neverwinter Nights expansions, a Designer on Baldur’s Gate II, and design work on Jade Empire.
The Irish government-backed Enterprise Ireland organization has announced the launch of a €500,000 fund designed to assist technology-driven start up companies get off the ground.
The Internet and Games Competitive Start Fund will help provide “critical early stage funding,” and will be introduced on a pilot basis to 10 operatives in the Internet and Games sector, each of whom will receive “an equity investment of €50,000 for a 10% ordinary equity stake.”
Each start up will also benefit from being assigned an “an experienced business mentor.”
Frank Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Ireland, added:
Pixofactor Entertainment is being billed as the first game developer in Michigan to make use of the state’s incentive packages aimed at the film and interactive entertainment industries.
The Royal Oak-based company is set to begin work on a Ben Hogan videogame for the Nintendo Wii, part of a suite of Hogan-related products that will include mobile apps, an interactive website and a DVD. The application was submitted to the Michigan Film Office by BH Golfing Game Productions LLC.
The entire project has a budget of $2.7 million and iPhone and Wii games are scheduled for release by the 2011 holiday season. The company expects to hire an additional 20-30 artists, animators and programmers to back the green-lit project.
Pro-gaming MP Tom Watson still can’t believe the UK government reneged on a promise to deliver tax relief to the country’s interactive entertainment developers.
As detailed in the Independent, Watson a Labour MP representing West Bromwich East, used a gathering of game developers to call the coalition government’s decision to kill tax relief a “reprehensible decision based on ignorance.”
Watson said that the move will cost jobs, adding, “I just hope it doesn't break the industry.”
Continuing, the MP, who started his own Facebook group in order to champion games late last year, said:
Never one to shy away from an open microphone, 38 Studios head Curt Schilling recently outlined an extremely confident vision for his company in Rhode Island at a Providence Business News’ Business Excellence Awards event.
Schilling, recipient of a $75 million loan from the state as a lure to move his company from Massachusetts to the Ocean State, offered, “My word on this: four to five to six years from now, we’re going to be looking back on this, and I know that 38 Studios will be one of the companies that will push and incentivize the Providence business community to become a national and global force.”
Christian game publisher Left Behind Games announced that it has snatched up 16.711 million radio listening impressions in order to kick off a radio ad campaign for the holidays that begins today and runs through December 26.
The ads promote Left Behind’s Charlie Church Mouse and Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist games and will appear in 30-second (MP3), 60-second (MP3) and 90-second incarnations (MP3). The ads feature two woman discussing “cool Christian games,” that are “less violent than the Star Wars games.” The women are so excited they “can’t wait” to post about the games on Facebook.
The city of London, Ontario continues to harbor aspirations for a local technology center based around videogames and has $5 million in funds ready to kick start the project.
There’s still no timeline for the intended center, but a plan, according to the LF Press, would have the federal government kick in $10.4 million of the total $24 million needed to get the project off the ground.
Wisconsin’s Film Tax Credit Program is paying off for one Green Bay-based developer.
Self-described “punk rock” game development company Frozen Codebase will receive $35,315 in tax credits according to a release issued by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The developer, which has two current teams made up of 29 employees total, will receive the funds for its work on a currently-in-production videogame, which has a total project budget of $141,257.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle stated “I am pleased that we could assist Frozen Codebase, LLC in expanding its products,” adding, “Projects like these ensure that we develop the infrastructure and skills necessary for the entertainment industry to thrive in Wisconsin.”
Yesterday we highlighted two editorials that backed California in its Supreme Court appeal over a law that would make it illegal to sell minors mature-rated violent games. Today we offer you a pair of views from people backing the game industry in its Schwarzenegger vs. EMA fight.
First up is President of the First Amendment Center Ken Paulson, who took to USA Today to offer his opinion that governing the intake of media should be left to a child’s parents or guardians.
While game industry group TIGA continues to pound politicians on the subject of instituting Games Tax Relief for UK interactive developers, one Canadian developer feels like the UK's rich history of creating games created as tax breaks, at least when it comes to landing new publishing deals.
Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios has received an initial payment of $13 million from the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) as part of a $75 million bond deal put together to lure the developer from Massachusetts to the Ocean State.
38 Studios is slated to receive approximately $51 million in all, with $20 million held in reserve in order to guarantee three years worth of repayments on the debt. Schilling’s firm will receive the rest of the money over the next 15 months as it meets certain milestones.
During another round of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in Parliament, the subject of Games Tax Relief for interactive developers was once again broached with Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured).
This time around it was Labour MP Jim McGovern who asked about the tax breaks. Cameron responded that the government is looking into simplifying the corporation tax regime to bring it down to 24%, which would make Britain “one of the best places in the world to do business.”
Game developer Daniel Greenberg (pictured) has authored a Washington Post opinion piece in which he argues that the Supreme Court should rule that videogames are free speech when it eventually rules on Schwarzenegger vs. EMA.
As a game developer, Greenberg called himself “disheartened and a little perplexed” at seeing games compared to cigarettes and alcohol by California State Senator Leland Yee, and he wondered “how government bureaucrats are supposed to divine the artistic value that a video game has for a 17-year-old.”
In describing newer games such as BioShock, Fable 2 and Fallout 3, Greenberg wrote: