Ravensword 2 tops flood of games coming out of GDC 2012

Mar 13, 2012
Games

The beginning of March is the time of the Game Developers Conference, a meeting of minds in San Francisco, California, in which video game developers give and attend conferences on topics ranging from puzzle design and graphical presentation, to monetization and community outreach. Over the last few years, however, the conference has grown. Once an […]

The beginning of March is the time of the Game Developers Conference, a meeting of minds in San Francisco, California, in which video game developers give and attend conferences on topics ranging from puzzle design and graphical presentation, to monetization and community outreach.

Over the last few years, however, the conference has grown. Once an “inside baseball” sort of event in which developers talked about the more technical aspects of making games, it’s become a place where game developers get the opportunity to show off their new titles instead.

This year’s GDC shows the growing influence of mobile gaming. Games of all stripes were discussed at the conference, many of which push mobile gaming in different directions and expand it in new and exciting ways. As it has for the last two years, Apple chose the week of GDC to announce its latest iPad (and, in fact, did so right across the street from the conference), and it’s hard not to look at the capabilities of the tablet in terms of some of the games developers were showing without getting excited.

Pushing the graphical limit

One of the best features of the new iPad will be its visual capabilities, making use of a Retina display and faster processor from the one employed in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. One game that is very likely to put the device through its paces is Ravensword 2, a role-playing title from Crescent Moon Games, the makers of the popular Aralon: Sword and Shadow. As Slide to Play reports, Ravensword 2 is extremely visually impressive, and more than one journalist has likened its graphical prowess to console and PC games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Another graphically impressive title is Air Mail, a flying game with something of a cartoonish steampunk aesthetic in which players support a war effort by delivering mail, ammunition and other items to people spread throughout its levels. Air Mail has a great distinctive look, a great deal of freedom in its gameplay, and a fluidity of control that often is only available on touchscreen devices. It seems to be a title to watch.

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Innovating familiar concepts

Not every iOS title to come out of GDC was a graphical powerhouse, however. Many were instead fairly low-res and a good deal simpler in their presentation, but focused on offering more innovativion and new ways to play. Slide to Play detailed The Act, for example, is a fairly simple title in which players help a cartoon character meet his goals simply by swiping at the screen. The speed and degree of swiping, however, is key to each scene in the game as you interact with other characters: for example, when attempting to meet a beautiful woman at a bar, swiping toward her too fast makes the character approach abruptly (and indecently), causing her to back off; too slow and her attention is lost.

And of course, old staples are finding ways to become new again. The makers of the popular vertical scroller Mega Jump, Get Set Games, showed off a new take on its old characters: Mega Run, an endless runner title. Sure, the app store is full of similar titles, but as Touch Arcade reports, Get Set is bringing the same ideas that made Mega Jump popular to its running title – namely, lots of variety in gameplay – to keep players engaged.

Big games on the small screen

In addition to smaller developers bringing a wealth of new, smaller-scale titles, larger video game publishers made their presences known in the mobile space at GDC as well. Electronic Arts, long a big force in mobile gaming that often bridges the gap between traditional games and the mobile frontier, showed off yet another tie-in game to one of its larger franchises. It’s called Burnout: Crash, and it leverages a popular driving (and crashing) game series to bring the franchise to iOS, focusing on creating massive traffic accidents. Burnout titles are well-loved in the world of console games, and EA hopes to cash-in on that good will among mobile gamers, as well. And Sega, another traditional console game maker and the creators of the famous Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, also had a big presence at the conference, focusing on titles it intends to continue pushing in the mobile space, like an Android version of Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

There were plenty of other games at the conference that ranged from visually impressive to simple but brilliant, and the biggest takeaway from the entire event was that mobile developers have a lot in the pipe for iOS gamers. Clearly, GDC is a window into the near-future of iOS/Android gaming, and the fact that the mobile gaming presence only seems to grow bigger and more involved every year shows just how exciting gaming in the mobile space is going to continue to be.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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