Friday, September 19, 2008

First teaser trailer for ´Cursed Mountain´

A first teaser trailer for the Wii exclusive horror survival game ´Cursed Mountain´ has been published through the game's website. I have uploaded a version to YouTube so you can check it out right here:

The game is being developed by Austrian studio Sproing (´Panzer Tactics DS´, ´Undercover: Dual Motives´) and published by Deep Silver, a subsidiary of German publisher Koch Media.

The developer's website hints at some gameplay elements:

Enter the Bardo, the Shadow World, and sense the enemies with the IR pointer and use praying and fighting gestures to defeat the evil sprits

About a month ago, the studio spoke about the technology behind the game, most notably its own proprietary game engine, ´Athena´, in a press release:

The Sproing team relies on its proprietary“Athena” game engine, which is rendering the Himalayas on Wii at a quality never seen before. The engine highlights of “Athena” include amongst others, HDR-Rendering, shader simulations developed especially for Wii in order to display ice, heat and water (realistic reflections and refractions), an ultra-fast particle system for amazing snow storms, soft particles for realistic fog and smoke, depth of field, motion blur, dynamic soft shadows, spherical harmonics lighting, as well as a high performance level-of-detail and streaming system in order to provide long viewing distance of the entire surrounding.

In order to create an exciting atmosphere when battling the ghosts, the game employs a number of custom-created special effects such as the shader simulations as well as a newly developed post-processing framework.“Our engine technology really takes the Wii hardware to its limits and Wii gamers can really look forward to a heart-stopping, and breath-taking world that comes alive with this title,” said Gerhard Seiler, Technical Director of Sproing.

The engine does not seem to have been built exclusively for the Wii, though, as the press release continues:

The company develops games on all available console platforms as well as on the PC using its proprietary real-time multi platform WYSIWYG game technology “Athena.”

With ´Cursed Mountain´, speculation about the Wii's graphics capabilities will resurface. It is still a topic hotly debated. I got banned from the controversial gaming forum NeoGAF after posting the following:

Well, Halo 3 is no looker, that is for sure. When I interviewed the Bungie bunch at the European launch event for the game, they were really apologetic about the graphics, saying it had other qualities to make up for the lack of looks. And Conduit, by comparison, is one fine-looking Wii game. I think it can be compared to Halo 3 any day, as can Metroid Prime 3, for that matter. Of course, I am only talking about Standard and Enhanced Definition, but that´s a given.

The reason was given thus:

Trolling mascarading as abject stupidity; CONDUIT ON PAR WITH HALO 3 LOL flamebaiting

But Mr. Malka and his anonymous colleagues may themselves deserve the label they used for me. Last November, Epic Studios revealed that a licensee of their Unreal 3 technology was porting it to Wii. It is still unknown which studio and what kind of project are attached to this attempt.

In February, Factor 5 president Julian claimed that the Wii engine he is working on will deliver no less than their PS3 engine used for ´Lair´:

We're almost done with the engine and it does everything that the PS3 did and then some, quite frankly.

In April, High Voltage Games, developer of ´The Conduit´, claimed that Wii games can look as good as Xbox360 or PS3 titles:

Most of the games on the Wii look like crap. We want to change that, so we've invested heavily in our Wii tech over the past year. (...) With Conduit, we are trying to make a Wii game that looks like a 360 title.

Source: Deep Silver
Thanks to: MCV UK

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This week in ´neues´: Will Wright interview

Will Wright interview

A few days ago, I was able to interview Will Wright at some length about ´Spore´ and user-generated content in general. The interview was conducted for the weekly technology show I work for, 3sat neues. Simply click on Will Wright to download the full 25 minute interview in English.

We discuss ´Spore´ and user-generated content in general. We go into some depth about quality assurance, the design of the editors, the use of artificial intelligence in ´Spore´ and balancing freedom with guiding the player. We also discuss some of the surprisingly low ratings by a number of reviewers, especially out here in Germany. Further, I ask Will Wright about the commercial failure of ´The Movies´ and whether that shows inherent limitations of user participation.

We go on to discuss Sporenography and whether it presents a threat to the idea of user-generated content. Will Wright then reveals what he considers the main challenges for a possible ´Spore´ sequel (or similar game). He also believes that this trend is not exclusive to the games medium, drawing parallels to the Web 2.0 phenomenon. Please check it out.

Other gaming-related topics

Tomorrow's show will also focus on ´LittleBigPlanet´, show a feature on hobby developers in Germany, a report from this year´s ´Ars Electronica´ art and media festival, as well as a portrait of Julian Oliver, designer of the ingenious augmented reality game ´LevelHead´ (you can also download the entire interview with him - in English - from our website).

Our studio guest this week is Benjamin Nitschke, co-founder and head programmer of ex:Dream Studios (´Arena Wars´, ´XNA Racing Game´) who talks about user-generated content, middleware tools like XNA, indie development and how hobby developers can turn professional. Finally, we review Google's Chrome browser. The show is in German. You can watch it on television at these times:

Sunday, 14th of September, 4:30pm CET (3sat)
Tuesday, 16th of September, 1:50 am CET (ZDF)
Thursday, 18th of September, 1:30 pm CET (ZDF-Infokanal)

You can also watch it online through our station's Mediatheque. This direct link should go live Sunday afternoon. Soon after, you can download the entire programme through our podcast page, where you also find the above bonus content.

Source: 3sat neues