8th INTERNATIONAL EDITION Q1 2012 WWW.CONTROL-ONLINE.NL
MAGAZINE FOR THE GAMES INDUSTRY
ONCE UPON A GAME...
STORYTELLING IN GAMES P.10 WEEKEND WARRIORS: PRESSURE COOKER DEVELOPMENT P.10 THE BRAIN GAME: MIND CONTROLLED GAMING P.14 ADAPTIVE MUSIC: THE COMEBACK P.22 THE LAMEST BUG: PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK P.24 CONTROL MAGAZINE FOR THE GAMES INDUSTRY WWW.CONTROL-ONLINE.NL
C O PY R I G H T G E R R I T W I LL E M S E .C O M
the perfect city for your game company
It’s true, Amsterdam ís the perfect city for your game company. But don’t take our word for it, listen to these game professionals. They feel Amsterdam is an integral part of their success. HERMEN HULST
MANAGING DIRECTOR GUERRILLA GAMES “For Guerrilla, Amsterdam has always been an important source of inspiration. The City offers all the attractions of a modern day metropolis condensed in the setting of small historic town. There’s no need to worry about commuting, walking to the Van Gogh museum or cycling your kid to school is the norm. It’s easy for our many foreign employees to feel at home: Everyone is fluent in English and although Schiphol airport is just a 15min train ride from the office, it typically offers a direct flight home.”
GERRIT WILLEMSE ARTIST
The beautiful artwork for this page is created by concept artist Gerrit Willemse. He worked at Lost Boys Games (which later transformed into Guerrilla Games) and Playlogic. His latest project is Speedrunner. Check his portfolio online at www.gerritwillemse.com
MARTIN DE RONDE
CCO VANGUARD GAMES “Amsterdam is a great location for our game development studio. It provides a perfect balance between a creative place to work in, and a city that provides lots of leisure opportunities after work. And above all, it’s a relatively small and thus socially strong place where it’s easy to quickly meet friends, colleagues and other game developers scattered around the Amsterdam area. That combined with a great digital and physical infrastructure and it’s international orientation makes Amsterdam the best location for Vanguard full stop.”
DID YOU KNOW?
SOUNDS OF AMSTERDAM When working on Killzone 2 the sound department of Guerrilla Games looked for the perfect sound for their flying ships, called intruders. They found it literally across the street from their office. The intruders are powered by the sound of an Amsterdam tram!
CLAIRE BOONSTRA CO-FOUNDER LAYAR
“We have no difficulty getting international people over to Layar. We already have 13 different nationalities (including USA, Cyprus, China, India, Spain and various Eastern European countries) working at Layar and they all love living and working here. Amsterdam is an asset!”
CONTACT AMSTERDAM Annelies in ‘t Veld +31 20 552 3204 firstname.lastname@example.org
W W W. A M ST E R D A M I N B U S I N E S S .C O M
DEAR IGF JUDGES... Do you remember the pictures of people pretending to have a blast whilst playing the Wii? The ones Nintendo used to change game marketing from screenshots to actual people? Well, imagine a game that evokes those positive emotions for real. A two player cooperative platformer that oozes creativity, beauty and most of all pure fun. It’s called Ibb & Obb. Ibb’s the one on the left, Obb’s the one on the right. Or vice versa. Anyway, we dedicate this page to you, dear judges, because after seeing your list of nominees, we went like “Dear IGF, WTF? Where’s our favorite?” Not that the games that made the cut don’t deserve it, quite the contrary. But this one is special, it’s one of those rare games you instantly fall in love with the minute you start playing it. And want to marry an hour in. Maybe you passed on it because you’re all loners with no one around to play the game with – it requires two players after all. Then again, you did notice the wonderful Fingle, another two player game. So we’re a bit at a loss here. Help us. Solve this unsolvable mystery. What’s wrong with Ibb & Obb? Tell us the truth. We won’t hold it against you. Probably. • Ibb & Obb started as a graduation project and is now being co-developed by the original creator, a Guerrilla Games senior and PlayStation Home veterans Codeglue. Out on PSN sometime in 2012.
4 CONTROL Q1 2012
WWW.CONTROL-ONLINE.NL WWW.CONTROL-ONLINE.NL/JOBS Control Neude 5 3512 AD Utrecht, The Netherlands email@example.com t. +31 30 231 99 14 Publisher Editor-in-chief Editor Design Cover image Contributors Photos
Welcome to the 8th international edition of Control! Normally this is the industry magazine for the Dutch games industry. In Dutch. So you wouldn’t be able to read it. But a couple of times a year, we publish an issue in an international language. Which is English, obviously. In this issue you’ll find articles on development, on trends, on bug hunting, on game music, basically on everything that’s interesting to anyone working in the games industry. Control is read by almost everyone in the Dutch games industry, so if you want to reach that collection of talent, make sure to contact us at redactie@control-online. We hope you enjoy this edition! Eric Bartelson (left), editor in chief, firstname.lastname@example.org Matthijs Dierckx (right), publisher, email@example.com
Matthijs Dierckx Eric Bartelson Alessandra van Otterlo Joachim Mahn, René Bartelson, a.o. Vanguard Games Greed Corp Concept Art David Smit Rami Ismail, Jan Willem Nijman, Joost van Dongen, Rik Nieuwdorp, Richard Boeser Arno Landsbergen, Zuraida Buter
Sales t. +31 30 231 99 14 firstname.lastname@example.org Control Magazine is official mediapartner of GDC San Francisco, GDC Europe, Dutch Games Association, Global Game Jam This publication has been produced, in part, with support from the Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco.
COLUMN — BY TWO TIME IGF FINALISTS VLAMBEER
mitating another game allows people to learn someone else’s rule set. That can be useful to establish a sort of game-rhetoric, which is a good way of learning and understanding how other people achieve their design and gameplay. Imitation, sadly, does not lead to good games. All parts of a rule set have been designed for specific problems within that specific design. By using the solutions from another design, a designer is ignoring an endless amount of more fitting and interesting possibilities. Ignoring those possibilities is one of the reasons so many games in the stores look so alike. On the other hand, this abundant ‘cut & paste’ mentality also means it’s easy to achieve innovation in games. By changing something minor in an existing design, a game quickly seems innovative. Every year, the indie scene uses this to produce thou-
sands of monstrosities with original game design. So, analyzing game design obviously doesn’t lead to good nor interesting games. These kinds of design are solely based on imitation or avoiding imitating too closely. The importance of ‘feeling’ in games is the thing that analyzing design doesn’t take into account. Feeling is an abstract given, that should be applied in a concrete way. A designer recently told us that early in his career, a client wasn’t happy with the way a certain gun ‘played’. The designer added a bit of bass to the sound effect and told the client the gameplay had been fixed. That weapon is still being fired by many around the world. The designer now works as a senior designer on Mass Effect 3. Super Crate Box wasn’t successful because the rule set resulted in tight, intense gameplay. It was a success because of the enormous amount of detail that helps players process their actions.
This is what happens when you fire the shotgun: a few projectiles are launched and damage enemies. More importantly, however, is that what the player doesn’t necessarily notice consciously – the things the player feels: your character recoils two pixels, a loud shooting noise plays, severe screenshake and as soon as you’re able to fire again, the round is ejected from the shotgun with a soft click. Enemies that you hit turn red for a single frame and if they take enough damage, they fly backwards in an elegant arc. You could say Super Crate Box has good gameplay because shooting the shotgun feels nice. “Your design is nice, but the game doesn’t play. Next time, make your explosions a lot bigger and add a bit of screen shake.” That’s how you teach people how to design gameplay. •
“PEOPLE USING UNITY FOR 2D GAMES ARE WASTING MONEY AND TIME”
GAMEMAKER DEV LAUNCHES CROSS PLATFORM EDITION, SAYS “FLASH WILL SLOWLY DIE”
nce a popular entry level development tool, GameMaker now wants to play with the big guys. The upcoming Studio edition promises developers ‘app store’ ready executables for a broad range of platforms from one source We hooked up with prof. dr. Mark Overmars, the original creator of GameMaker and co-founder of YoYo Games, its current publisher. If GameMaker really offers what it promises, who should fear it? Adobe with Flash? “Flash will slowly die the coming years. Adobe knows this and they are afraid. Not of us, but in general. I think GameMaker HTML5 will be an excellent replacement for this. In particular for games, as it is designed with game production in mind.” And Unity, which also offers output to a large number of platforms and offers 3D, but is more expensive? “Unity should focus on what they are good at: doing 3D games. People using Unity for 2D games are wasting a lot of
money and, worse, a lot of time. Developing 2D games in GameMaker is much faster.” YoYo claims it’s possible to use Game maker as a central point for development for numerous, completely different platforms ranging from web (HTML5) to desktop (Windows, Mac OS X) and mobile (iOS, Android). That’s quite a claim. Is it really possible to produce ‘app store ready’ output for all these platforms, for one game, without rewriting at least half of it? “Yes, and we’ve already proved it. The 15 games YoYo Games published over the past year were transformed from iOS to Android with the press of a single button. Furthermore, the HTML5 versions were created with hardly any additional work. The only changes you have to make relate to form factors such as screen resolution, although GameMaker will automatically scale if you do not adapt it yourself, and the availability of certain interaction devices. If your game uses a keyboard you obviously have to make some changes to let it work on iPad. Inside your game you
CO-FOUNDER LEAVES GUERRILLA GAMES FOR EA VISCERAL
fter a decade of Killzone, Guerrilla Games’ co-founder and Technical Director Arjan Brussee is moving to EA Visceral, creators of another shooter starring glowing eyes, Dead Space.
me, I now want to find a new personal challenge, and who knows where this will take me next.”
EA’s newest Executive Producer told Control: “At some point your ‘baby’ has matured, it can stand on its own two feet. The people at Guerrilla are absolute world class, they can continue on their own.” In an e-mail to his former colleagues he wrote: ““It has been a great ride. Every year there was something ambitious, new and inspiring to put my energy into. For
At the start of his career he was Lead Programmer on Jazz Jackrabbit, a game he created with Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski. At Guerrilla he was responsible for all four Killzone games and the PS2 shooter Shellshock: Nam ‘67. • 7 CONTROL Q1 2012
can check the device type so you can still use a single code base.” By the way, why would a (full) professor develop game... err, making tools? “GameMaker started as a hobby project. I was always fascinated by how you could create software that was extremely easy to use, but still would give users full control and flexibility. Doing this for creating games was my ultimate challenge. It only vaguely related to my work at the university. Nowadays, I work two days a week at Utrecht University, where I am involved in everything related to game development, and the rest at YoYo Games. But I am no longer developing GameMaker myself. We have a team of excellent developers from the game community for that, including the original programmers of Lemmings and GTA. They know what a professional game developer needs in a tool.” •
GameMaker Studio launches in April 2012. Basic (per seat) license: $99 (Windows & Mac executables). Additional output platforms (HTML5, iOS, Android) $200 per platform.
THE SUDDEN SUCCESS OF DUTCH INDIES Game Oven’s Bojan Endrovski (iPad hit Fingle) answering Gamasutra.com’s questions: Q: The indie game development community in the Netherlands really seems to be taking off in recent years, with studios like Vlambeer, Ronimo, and Game Oven. What do you think is behind this surge for the region, and what do you think Dutch developers offer that’s unique from other studios? A: The growing independent game development scene is a subject we often discuss with Vlambeer. We think it is mainly due to one organization making life and work easier for starting Dutch game developers: the Dutch Game Garden. All the companies you named are either inside their building or moving there (like Game Oven). Ronimo and Vlambeer are a huge inspiration to aspiring game designers and developers: they managed to reach big international audiences with their passionately built products.
COOK & BECKER DIGITAL ART DEALER
Maarten Brands (left) and one of the partners, his brother Ruben. “It’s so much more than just artwork from games”
he painting on the wall depicts a city build on the edge of a ravine. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time in history or a place in this world. The center of the piece is unmistakably a bridge being build over the gap. The wooden scaffolding supports the structure in a fine network of beams. Your eyes ravel in the intricate detail of the work. Is this a Dutch Master or... It’s actually a Photoshop painting by Jesse van Dijk, concept artist at Bungie, and it’s for sale at art dealer Cook & Becker. Maarten Brands, a towering Dutchman with a disarming smile, set up the online art dealership with 8 CONTROL Q1 2012
a gallery in the Dutch town of Utrecht together with a couple of partners. His business? Digital art from all corners of contemporary entertainment, including -of course- gaming. Brands feels that the time is right for this endeavour: “For a while now I wanted to work with artists that define our current time and culture. A lot of these artists work in the games industry, because games have such a dominant position in modern pop culture.”
“At the same time we see a new generation of art lovers and buyers. People in their thirties or forties who grew up playing games, and watching cartoons, and seeing graffiti on the subway. They don’t necessarily have a connection with the old traditional art, but it clicks when they see artwork of their favorite game.” Cook & Becker offers museum grade prints in a limited edition. The art is printed on aluminum sheets and coated with a transparent layer of epoxy. Pro-
tecting it from the elements for eternity. Or at least 300 years. “Guaranteed.”
The young art dealer works with studios and individual artists. “We have contracts with game companies like Guerrilla Games and Irrational Design to produce series of game art from Killzone and Bioshock.” But even more interesting than concept art of a game is the personal work of the artists. “Freed from the confines of a work environment, artist create their most meaningful work. So we try to interest them to open up their personal portfolio. It’s a question of getting to know each other and learning to trust and respect one another.” Cook & Becker has the paintings of Naughty Dog concept artist Maciej Kuciara and Daniel Dociu, Chief Art Director of NCSoft and many others. But also exclusive works by Japanse game designers Keita Takahashi and Masaya Matsuura.
Maarten Brands has a background in gaming. He used to work for developer W!Games, nowadays Vanguard Games, and produced the first Dutch Wii title My Horse and Me. He left W!Games to set up Virtual Fairground, a company specialized in Flash based MMO’s. “I used to work with the artists in these companies, and they produced art that I would love to put on my wall. When I left the studio, the idea of doing something special with all this great art being produced within gamestudios around the world stuck. I found some reliable partners and we just started the business.” “It’s so much more than just art from games. We are specialized in all sorts of digital art. And same as traditional art, the creating of digital art is craftsmanship. Using a computer instead of a brush doesn’t make it any less impressive.” Looking at Jesse van Dijk’s painting of the bridge, you get the feeling he’s right. • 9 CONTROL Q1 2012
There’s a joke hidden in the name of the startup art dealership. Only Dutch speakers will get it. When you say Cook and Becker aloud, it’s a small step from koekenbakker, which literally means baker of cookies. “The name is just a little inside joke. Inspired by the old prestigious arthouses with double names and such”, chuckles Maarten Brands.
“30 HOURS IN AND WE’VE YET TO SEE A SINGLE LINE OF WORKING CODE”
WEEKEND WARRIORS: DIARY FROM THE PRESSURE COOKER THE GLOBAL GAME JAM PITS DEVELOPERS AGAINST THEIR WORST ENEMY: TIME. REPORTER AND ASPIRING COMPOSER MATTHIJS DIERCKX JOINED THE RANKS OF THOSE BRAVE ENOUGH TO DEVELOP A GAME IN JUST 48 HOURS. SATURDAY Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am. 9:15 PM The clowns are members of another team
at this year’s Global Game Jam, here in Breda, the Netherlands. Like most participants, they’re students, and a particular loud breed of students. With their feet firmly on the desks and the speakers at ‘11’, it’s hard to imagine this group working at any other studio than the one they might start for themselves – talented as they may be. The jokers, well, they’re our programmers. They’re no students anymore, but real professionals, programming games for a living. But we’re 30 hours in and we’ve yet to see a single line of working code. Basically, our team is lagging far behind all the others. Looking at the fully fledged 3D prototypes 10 CONTROL Q1 2012
around us (some of them already include textures, all of them have at least some form of decent gameplay), I wonder how this happened. We should be front runners, considering the composition of our team. Two professional game designers (including the studio director for a household name in casual games), two professional programmers and a very experienced artist, who has worked on a couple of AAA-titles. Oh, and there’s me, the journalist annex wannabe-composer and sound designer. But that’s hardly a bottleneck in any development team. We started so well. The minute after the announcement of this year’s theme (an iconic picture of a snake biting its own tail), we came up with a neat concept: multiplayer for a single player (I’ll explain that in a moment). Basically, we skipped the brainstorm and went straight into pre-production. While other teams were still trying to make sense of the ‘theme’, we were discussing art style and even com-
“RAPID PROTOTYPING? NUH-UH! OUR TWO-MAN CODING ARMY JUST DELIVERED AN ENTIRE 2D PLATFORM ENGINE”
ing up with a rough sketch of some levels. Rebirth, as we baptised our project, is a 2D platformer (another reason we shouldn’t be lagging behind), but with a twist. There’s always a twist, isn’t there? The player can only get to the end of a level by cooperating with... himself. Simple example: the level is blocked by a rock. The player pushes the rock, but it won’t move. He then, well, kills himself and is respawned at the beginning of the level. However, his ghost from his previous attempt joins him, repeating the exact same actions. So, now two ‘yous’ push the rock and this time it wíll move. Great concept, isn’t it? Apparently that’s exactly what a great many designers before us thought when they came up with similar concepts, years ago. The standard reply to us explaining the concept has become: I see, it’s like this game. Or that game. Or like one of the fifty others. By now we’ve amassed a great collection of YouTube-videos depicting this very concept. Not a bit depressing. Adding insult to injury, my music isn’t going anywhere. I’m supposed to write this zen-like piece, putting the player in relax-mode. But that’s close to impossible in this space we share with numerous other teams. The ambient soundscape around me is a combination of Metal, Dubstep, Triphop and whatever
the genres are called that try to achieve the exact opposite of making you feel relaxed, and it’s all penetrating my not-so-noise-cancelling headphones. Our artist just left. He lives nearby, decided to catch some sleep at home. He’ll return in the morning. We hope. Oh, and we’ve run out of beer. That, you can blame on me.
SUNDAY What a difference a night makes. 10:45 AM And the difference is the code. Apparently
our programmers aren’t a bunch of jokers, they just don’t grasp the concept behind the Global Game Jam – or any game jam whatsoever. No really, they don’t have the faintest idea of what pressure cooker development involves. Rapid prototyping? Nuh-uh! Our two-man coding army just delivered an entire 2D platform engine, including physics, running at 60 FPS. No cap on the amount of recordable player attempts or number of ghosts. Oh, and they built a level editor. A LEVEL EDITOR! For a project that’s supposed to be finished in under 48 hours and that will contain no more than three levels, at most. 11 CONTROL Q1 2012
UNDERCOVER With 240 locations in 45 countries and over 11,000 participants, the Global Game Jam truly is a global event. The goal: make a game in just 48 hours. Here are some of the results of this year’s edition:
SIZE MATTERS THE NETHERLANDS
Behold, the pitfalls of experience. Pace isn’t the issue here – I mean, churning out a (physics) engine and a level editor in a day and a half, that’s certainly reaching game jam-speed. The issue is the moment when you let others in on your work. These guys are so used to delivering top-notch, close to releasable code, they couldn’t put themselves to sharing some sort of pre-alpha engine in which the game designers could at least try and see if our concept worked (well, YouTube did that for us anyway – but that’s hardly the point). We’ve got less than four hours to assemble a seemingly random collection of jigsaw pieces into some sort of coherent whole, worthy of calling a game. 2:30 PM Wow... unknowingly, we have been working on quite a gem. I just played the first level and it’s really fun! It looks absolutely un-game-jammy beautiful and it even sounds great (no really, ask anyone). On top of that: it really feels fresh. Although the basic mechanic bares similarities to other games, the execution results in a completely different experience. Somehow, we knew what the end-product should play, look or sound like, so we all managed to develop the right piece of the right puzzle, completely independent of one another. Parallel-individual-cooperative-development. Or something. A thing of beauty. 2:58 PM What’s with the three judges already lurking around our cubicles? These guys are reminiscent of a school of piranhas. I feel like bait. I know the Global Game Jam isn’t a competition at its core. It’s all about the fun, overcoming problems (and boy, did we do just that) and such, but after seeing our little game in action, I can’t stop myself from feeling very, very competitive right now. Especially since here at the International Game Architecture and Design Course at
Breda, a purveyor of Dutch flagship studio Guerrilla Games, there’s eternal honor to win. And an Xbox 360 – but I’ve already got one of those...
Who needs game designers? Who needs artists? Apparently not these four programmers who found themselves not welcome in any other team and decided to hook up together. 48 hours later the joke was on all the others, thanks to this brilliant little game in which the player is able to change size to solve puzzles. Plays like a dream.
3:00 PM Wait, what? It’s already three o’clock? Damn! 3:03 PM The piranhas attacked at 3:00 PM sharp. We somehow managed to show them a set of finished levels. But we didn’t get the chance to prepare a decent presentation. Like the teams who are last in line to be judged... 5:30 PM Crap. The piranhas didn’t like the taste of our game, they kicked us out in the first round! Not the worst mistake in entertainment since twelve publishers turned down Harry Potter, but to be very honest, none of us understands why. On the upside: we’re not alone at that. Our play session attracted a lot of other participants and a majority of them seemed impressed or at least (more importantly) genuinely entertained. So, here’s a question: if we manage to develop a game within 48 hours that’s capable of entertaining gamers for at least five minutes, what will happen if we pour a couple of more weekends into it? We do have a level editor, after all... But first... sleep. Please Lord let me sleep. Let’s see how our little game holds up in the harsh light of another day. But that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m so tired. Just let me...
PRESENT DAY: AND NOW?
Well, it’s two weeks later and our initial excitement about the game... is still very much alive! So, we’re currently putting together a proper demo that we’ll show at this year’s GDC in San Francisco. Let’s see if publishers are smarter than a couple of Game Jam judges. To be continued. I hope. 12 CONTROL Q1 2012
THE BAD(ASS) SNAKE 2 UNITED STATES
Yes, that’s a man’s ass. And yes that’s a lightsaber. But(t) no, the snake isn’t going anywhere near the, erm, entrance. It’s spitting bullets at this end boss. You know, as snakes with a hand for a tail do.
HYPER MANLY RAINBOW CHEST HAIR SHOOTER FINLAND 1. You play as a 70’s disco superstar. 2. You shoot vividly colored notes from your chest hair. Yes, your chest hair. 3. Your enemy is ‘The Hoff’. 4. You play using a guitar and a dancepad simultaneously. – See, four reasons this game is in the weird-section.
JOIN THE RANKS GUERRILLA IS NOW RECRUITING FOR ITS UPCOMING PROJECTS Senior Character Animator Senior Art Producer Tech Art Producer Assistant Art Director Java Developer AI Programmer Game Programmer P Tech Programmer Lighting Artist Shader & Texture Artist
email@example.com | www.guerrilla-games.com/jobs
TRENDS & TECHNOLOGY
to do. But what if we cut out the middle man, so to speak, and let the brain control the game directly? No more use for your hands holding complicated controllers or getting cramps from mouse and keyboard. Just you sitting comfy in a chair thinking your way through hordes of baddies.
IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE NOWADAYS?
he Brain is the biggest untapped resource in videogaming. Sure, everything you play, see and hear is being processed by it, but your grey matter doesn’t play an active role in controlling the on screen action. It receives input through your eyes and ears (and hands if you are holding a feedback controller) and tells your body what
According to extensive studies in the Netherlands brain-controlled navigation is feasible. Yeah! Wait... what happened to killing bad guys left and right by the mere thought of it? Apparently THAT is a loooong way off. Jan van Erp proudly shows the ‘TNO tactile Brain-Computer Interface’. At first glance it looks like a cap divers may wear when going underwater. The string of wires exiting a hole in the back suggest oth-
erwise. This is serious laboratory gear. Van Erp has spent the last couple of years developing ways to let the brain control on screen action at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). He and his team didn’t invent the method of on-screen navigation using the brain, but they have made it much more responsive, shaving off milliseconds of response time, bringing the tech a little bit closer to gaming applications.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
Well, we cannot ‘think’ an object on-screen left or right. Our brain has to be tricked into action. The user wears a so-called vibration belt that sends little jolts to different locations around the waist. Each location corresponds naturally with a navigation direction. When the player wants to go
14 CONTROL Q1 2012
left, his brain lights up when the corresponding location is vibrating. The computer sees this and thus realizes which way the player wants to go.
It works. But it’s nowhere near fast enough for real-time interaction. Any zombie, even the really slow ones, would have had more than enough time to crawl towards you and start eating your eyeballs before you had a chance to move your character out of the way. 300 milliseconds. That’s how long it takes for the computer to react to your thoughts. That’s too long. Now there’s two reasons for that. Computer hardware and the human body. The first one can be overcome when technology advances. Van Erp and his team developed a way to help biology and make the brain react faster. With even more
“300 MILLISECONDS. THAT’S HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR THE COMPUTER TO REACT TO YOUR THOUGHTS.”
THE BRAIN GAME THINK OR DIE trickery. They added additional stimuli like light flashes on-screen and clicking sounds left and right, in addition to the vibration belt. This way they took the reaction time down to 70 milliseconds. The time-locked brain responses used for navigation have an interesting side effect. They reflect mental states. For example, the size of the brainwave that indicates direction will be lower if the user has to divide his attention between other tasks. This is a relatively easy way of checking one’s mental load, or how intuitive the design of the user interface is. This knowledge is valuable to optimize brain controlled devices and any type of human-computer interaction. So we are getting there. Slowly but surely. Now the next step is to make that diver cap look sexy. •
ALMOST JEDIS: DREAMS OF DANU The brand names of brain computer interfaces (BCIs) may sound a little intimidating: the Epoc from Emotive Industries, the NeuroSky MindWave and the Neural Impulse Actuator by BCInet. The devices themselves look perhaps even more impressive, especially the Epoc with its many tentacle-like sensors. For the guys of start-up game studio Dreams of Danu however, these gadgets are bread and butter.
input, but current-gen BCIs don’t allow you to perform Jedi-like instant thought commands”. So much for science fiction. As it turns out, BCIs don’t respond like a controller would to commands like “shoot”, “run” or “go right”. They merely measure brainwaves. But being able to create games that respond to a player’s moods and emotions, attention and concentration, that is what they do make possible.
Designer and Artist Floris Versendaal is quick to lower our high expectations: “Players are used to getting immediate feedback based on their
Versendaal explains: “I created a Breakout-like game that’s controlled with mouse and keyboard, but gameplay and difficulty level change
15 CONTROL Q1 2012
depending on feedback sent by the BCI. It became the starting point for our first commercial title MindOut.” The team further designed Ker of Eden, a game offering a meditative experience. “I wanted to research whether it’s possible to steer thoughts of users by utilizing sound effects.” (The answer was yes, by the way) These small steps are far removed from what people usually think of when imagining brain controllers; i.e. instant thought control. But turning impossible expectations to realistic ones has become a common ritual that Dreams of Danu performs for users and clients.
ROTTERDAM - the place to be for game companies
Tom Rutjens (24) is Codeglueâ€™s most experienced game artist. He only finished his studies of Animation & Games at the Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam four years ago. Tom has always had a passion for drawing and videogames. He is an allround artist; he now creates 2D and 3D artwork, as well as the occasional quirky animation. More of Tomâ€™s work can be found on www.codeglue.com
Powered by A young, vibrant city! Rotterdam: a young, vibrant city with an international atmosphere. Home to leading designers and creative talents in various fields, not the least of which the gaming industry. Many of them are also educated here; some of the top media and design schools and academies in the Netherlands can be found in Rotterdam. The country’s second largest city is open to change and welcomes new initiatives. These award winning and nominated professionals explain why it is the place to be for your game company:
MARCUS VLAAR – Creative Director Ranj Serious Games
www.ranj.com Rotterdam has a down-to-earth, no-nonsense culture which continuously invites you to prove your worth and rise to your full potential. This allows you to grow, explore new possibilities and push your creative boundaries. We like the challenge this provides. This world port city has always been internationally oriented and the creative industry is also growing to the international market. This inspires us to focus increasingly on the rest of Europe and the world; we now do business with Germany and Singapore. We have created several serious games for multinationals, universities and other internationally oriented organizations.
TUUR HENDRIKX – CEO SonicPicnic / Composer / Sound Designer
www.sonicpicnic.nl This city has a buzzing and growing game developers scene. There are a lot of lean, mean, inventive companies coming up with great new game concepts in all kinds of genres and markets. The atmosphere is informal and accessible, and there's quite some collaboration going on between companies within city boundaries. For us as composers and sound designers for games, it's great to be a part of this scene and to be involved in projects developed here. Sound is an intrinsic part of almost every game, and the Rotterdam companies we work with give us the freedom to really think about how sound and music can improve the final product.
PETER DE JONG – CEO Codeglue
www.codeglue.com Rotterdam is a quickly developing city with a no-nonsense attitude. It's modern, it's creative, it's got great architecture, old parts of the city are rapidly transforming into something wonderful; it's just extremely vibrant. For us, this just feels like the right place to be. We develop and publish casually connected games for the latest generation of console and mobile platforms. As we also do business internationally, one of the main advantages for us is also the city’s infrastructure; the whole of Europe is easy to reach by train or by plane. And Rotterdam is very well connected to the internet through its fiber optics infrastructure.
Creative hubs in Rotterdam Rotterdam has various creative hubs, which are very media-oriented. Marcus: “Ranj is located in the Schiecentrale, a media hub. We work with all sorts of multimedia companies here. Although much work is done online, it is nice to be able to just walk into each other’s offices”. Tuur: “For us, it is ideal being amongst other creative people in The Creative Factory. When you work on a project with several companies in one building, it really feels like you are creating something new together”. Peter: “Our building Schieblock breathes a feeling of creativity; it’s a place where you can do anything you like. And that’s good for the creative process”.
For more info, contact the Rotterdam Media Commission • E: firstname.lastname@example.org • W: www.rmc.rotterdam.nl • PH: +31(0)10-2214080
ONCE UPON A GAME... FOUR DEVELOPERS, FOUR COMPLETELY DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO STORYTELLING. JOIN THEM IN THEIR QUEST FOR A GREAT STORY.
hen it comes to storytelling in games, there are no absolutes. Every developer approaches this hugely important aspect of development differently. So, a little disclaimer before you continue reading: this article isn’t trying to tell the whole story. Instead, a couple of developers from completely different studios and genres let us in on their quest for the ultimate story. Our story begins in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. At Guerrilla Games we’re discussing Killzone 3. A game of many qualities, though strong storytelling is not one them. But that’s exactly what’s making Guerrilla’s case so interesting. Especially since the Helghast creators set out to make the story stand out this time around. Right after a release, Guerrilla Games reads every single review they can get their hands on. It’s somebody’s day job to filter out all the positive and negative points and put those into one giant spreadsheet. After a couple of weeks, with one click the developer knows exactly what the world considers the weakest features in their latest release. And here’s the trick: Guerrilla isn’t just taking notice, it wants their next game to excel in these exact areas. It worked pretty well in the past. Killzone 1 was criticized for it’s meagre multiplayer. In Killzone 2 that problem was not only addressed, according to many reviewers multiplayer was now Killzone’s strongest feature. No wonder the Amsterdam based studio placed the emphasis on storytelling for Killzone 3, since reviews had identified it as the weakest link in their PlayStation 3 debut game. Following the logic of the Guerrilla-method, Killzone 3 would have had a great
story. Sadly, it didn’t. The premise was great: After invading the planet of Helghan, earth forces found themselves outgunned and outnumbered by the Helghan army. The fight for freedom turned into a struggle for survival. The actual story quickly went south because of stereotypical characters and clunky dialogue. Guerrilla’s Art Director and 10 year Killzone veteran Jan-Bart van Beek knows what went wrong: “We treated storytelling as a software problem. We thought we could just fix it by identifying the variables that influence the story and the way it’s told and then simply crank it all the way up, like the volume on your stereo.” “The story in a game consists of elements like the script, actors and cinematic cut scenes. True to our method we needed the best for all these elements. Better writer, better actors and a better director. We were very serious about that. We spent over a year looking for a writer with extensive experience in the games industry, who would also fit the team. We needed a writer in-house. Someone that would sit down with the design team and actively help with development of the characters and the story. Finally we found our man, John McLean, who worked on Black & White and Splinter Cell.” “We were quite taken by the cinematics of Resident Evil 5 when it was released. So we got Jim Sonzero, the director responsible for that. And for the actors... Well, we felt we needed some star power. Brian Cox did a hell of a job on Killzone 2, but we killed of his
JAN-BART VAN BEEK GUERRILLA GAMES
“WE TREATED STORYTELLING AS A SOFTWARE PROBLEM.”
19 CONTROL Q1 2012
COVERSTORY: STORYTELLING IN GAMES
“EMOTIONS LAST LONGER THAN TECHNOLOGY”
ARD BONEWALD GAMEHOUSE STUDIOS
character Visari at the end of part 2. It took some time before we found the cast we felt comfortable with, maybe there’s just not enough talent in Europe. In the end, some Hollywood casting agencies helped us out and suggested Malcolm McDowell. He’s is such a great actor.” “So we cranked up everything as much as possible and addressed most of the weak points. We had a better script writer, a better... well, better everything really. Everything should play out nicely now, right? Wrong! It’s not just a matter of getting ‘better’ people. It’s how you can play to the strengths of them. To be honest, we still don’t know exactly how to do that. For them, a script is leading. For us, gameplay is. Those two elements are hard to mix. Gameplay and level design are the most important ingredients of the player’s experience. They should never be restricted by the story. Just like everything else in game development, the story takes a lot of time to get right. It means you’re working on it right until the very last day. Fine tuning the script, the voices and the cut scenes.” So ‘cranking up’ the variables in the story department didn’t result in a great story. On the contrary, many reviewers expressed their disappointment with the the lack of a coherent story and the one dimensional characters. “We learned a valuable lesson. Story is not a software problem. It’s an integrated part of development and it should be treated as such. Including extensive testing throughout.” Guerrilla Games has made some changes to the development process. “We are con20 CONTROL Q1 2012
stantly looking for ways to improve ourselves and the way we do things. We are looking to other industries as well for inspiration. A couple of guys from Pixar came by to tell us how they tackle storytelling. It’s great to learn from the absolute best.” Guerrilla Games keeps looking for the best way to marry great gameplay with an equal great story.
ameHouse Studios makes games with budgets only a fraction of that of Guerrilla’s, but with a clear idea of the importance of story in games. The ‘kings of casual’ develop high end casual games for a specific target group, women. Most of the titles are time management games, but differentiate from competitors by being story driven. Games like Delicious, Campfire Legends and Heart’s Medicine all feature well written stories and clever dialogue. Studio Director Ard Bonewald: “We want the stories in our games to be interesting for the player and not just some excuse for another round of pointing and clicking.” Story is leading in the development of a new game at GameHouse Studios. “Everything starts with the framework of the story and the emotion it should evoke. We write the first draft ourselves and bring in a professional writer to wrap it up.” Then it’s time for the very first test. “At that point we bring in our target group for a series of story tests. We present these women with the written story and dialogue and give them some time to read it. This is a very effective way to see if the target group relates to the events and characters in the game. ‘Fine’ just won’t cut it. We want ‘Great!’. The last Delicious story was very well received at this stage and turned to be quite a success. We use all the feedback and try to come up with a final draft. Then we keep fine tuning the story and gameplay until they fit nicely together. It has to become more than just a game with a story.” The studio never runs low on ideas. The developers use their own life and experiences as reference. “De-
“YOU CAN’T DEVELOP A GAME LIKE THIS WITHOUT A GOOD STORY”
JENOVA CHEN THATGAMECOMPANY
KARS ALFRINK STUDIO HUBBUB
licious is all about the personal growth of main character Emily. She tries to run a business and still have time for a meaningful personal life. We all have to deal with that at some point in our life, so that makes our target group relate to the events and characters.” “We know exactly how we want to convey a story in our games. All the theories and techniques are there, but it’s meaningless if your story doesn’t have a soul. It has to be told from the heart. Classic tales from around the world deal with love and morality and ethical values. And these stories are still fun to read nowadays, or to play or to watch, because they revolve around basic human emotions. And you can’t fake real emotion. We have a saying in the studio that we firmly believe in: Emotions last longer than technology.”
ven in the field of applied games the use of narrative is rapidly becoming the de facto standard. Studio Hubbub creates these kinds of serious games, often with a social or physical element. Their latest project is a game for the Dutch tax office. “It is quite story focused”, says Hubbubfounder Kars Alfrink. In an alternative future the economy has come to a grinding halt. The government decides that taxes may be paid in kind. This is the setting of Code 4, a game for tax officials to train their social skills. Code 4 is an alternate reality game, so players receive emails and phone calls all within the parameters of the fictitious universe. They participated in roll play with trained actors and went online to trade goods. Four teams of tax employees battled it out over a course of three weeks. “You can’t develop a game like this without a good story. It becomes too abstract and players lose focus and interest. For people who are not used to playing games a metaphor can really help explaining the rules.” “First we came up with the core mechanics. Then we added a story. It could have been anything really, so we came up with three different themes. We let the
tax office decide and took it from there. The writer and designer worked closely together on this project. Sometimes we needed additional story elements to introduce a gameplay mechanic, so the writer just came up with a new story line. All within the parameters of the universe of course.” “The tax office employees got one and a half hour each day to play the game, but our data shows that they put in a lot more time. The competitive element definitely contributed, but I’m sure it’s the story that reeled them in. It was so successful that we’re applying narrative to more of our training games.”
ost games use narrative in a traditional fashion, with a ‘real’ story that has a beginning and an end. However, not all developers choose that route. A while ago we had a conversation with Jenova Chen, the creative mind behind games such as Flower and the upcoming Journey. He responded fiercely to our suggestion that Flower didn’t have any story. “Flower definitely tells a story! The development of the game even started with writing the story. Including a playable character. However, that character wasn’t a good fit for the game so we ended up removing it. Thereby making the story much more abstract but it did not disappear. We learned that a story, a narrative structure doesn’t necessarily needs a character.” •
21 CONTROL Q1 2012
COVERSTORY: MAESTRO, MUZIEK! MUSIC
THE COMEBACK OF ADAPTIVE GAME MUSIC
COMPOSER AND ADAPTIVE MUSIC EXPERT RIK NIEUWDORP SHARES HIS THOUGHTS ON THE STATE OF ADAPTIVE MUSIC IN GAMES.
Rik Nieuwdorp is composer at Claynote and composed and produced the adaptive soundtrack for 2011 IGF Finalist Bohm.
fter the initial and successful integration of adaptive music systems in the 90s like iMuse, it strangely disappeared from the scene, probably when full-quality, high-end scores were made possible through cd-rom technology and the likes. Now, adaptivity in game music is slowly seeping back into ‘regular’ games, and I expect that process to continue.
these projects it is easier for music and other game departments to influence each other and it can yield far more intricate and previously unimaginable results. This is also why we focus on these projects rather than the more high-profile games, which have a more sluggish development process. The possibility of a closer cooperation with all development parties so you can achieve what you want – or more – is very valuable.
In my experience the idea of implementing an adaptive music system in a game is still something that originates from the audio department and composers, who would like to make the most of the auditory experience of the game. It’s often a battle to convince the game developer to put in a little bit more of an effort programming-wise to gain a lot more of an immersive gaming experience. In these cases the composers usually already know how to design such an adaptive system, of course, and are familiar with the added value of adaptive music. That said, basic adaptivity in game music is starting to regain ground in even the most high-profile games – games like Killzone or Dead Space for instance – due to technological advances and a general growth in attention to all aspects of game development.
Regarding mobile games, I believe technology is holding us back right now. Soon this won’t be a problem anymore, but right now I feel it is limiting the possibility of an extensive adaptive music system. We are working on an iPad game as we speak and unfortunately I’m forced to re-think and efficiently cut back on the adaptivity of the music system because, for example, the compression/decompression of long, simultaneous music layers is taking up too much processor power for a game that is already pretty processor-heavy in its graphics and physics. This will probably not be a problem anymore with the third or fourth iteration of the iPad, so that is when elaborate adaptive music systems will be possible for all types of games.
“BASIC ADAPTIVITY IN GAME MUSIC IS REGAINING GROUND”
Indie game developers are usually more open to experimentation, and the smaller scale on which they operate allows for a closer cooperation between game developer and composers. In
Right now, the emergence of adaptive music also creates opportunities for experienced composers. Everyone, game developers as well, has a nephew/friend/brother-in-law that can churn out a couple of tunes, and they are more likely to be hired for a nickel and a smile when the game devs consider audio to be a last point on the to-do list (which is often the case). However, being able to compose and produce and understand the process behind it, sets real game composers apart from the rest. Good for us. •
22 CONTROL Q1 2012
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made in utrecht
The highly anticipated Awesomenauts by Swords & Soldiers veterans Ronimo Games.
US Top 10 iPad hit Fingle by Game Oven
AAA-localisation to many languages for titles such as Heavy Rain and Uncharted
AAA-codevelopment such as the PCversion of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Populair indie games such as Super Crate Box and the IGFfinalist Ridiculous Fishing
Two great conferences, with great keynote speakers like Peter Molyneux
“THE LAMEST BUG”
AWESOMENAUTS UNFROZEN JOOST VAN DONGEN RONIMO GAMES
very game has bugs. That’s a fact of life. Sometimes they’re big and fat and hard to miss, but sometimes they’re nasty little buggers that hide inside lines and lines of code and nibble away at your game (and sanity). Joost van Dongen, Tech Lead at Ronimo Games, had his fair share of bugs, but this was by far ‘the lamest’ he ever encountered while working on Awesomenauts. “In the past half year we encountered a really rare bug in the PS3 build of Awesomenauts about once a month. The game would freeze for anywhere between 10 to 100 seconds, and then continue normally as if nothing had happened. We always have a PC connected to collect logs from the game. However, the log printed nothing interesting and showed simply the framerate, which is printed once per second:
13:48:13 13:48:14 13:49:21 13:49:22
60 60 1 60
FPS FPS FPS FPS
From this we concluded that the issue must be in some part of the code that does not log anything. That leaves 99% and with a codebase of at least 150,000 lines, it’s almost impossible to find. Since this issue was so rare and we hadn’t encountered it in months, we had closed the book on it. We thought it was an anomaly that we couldn’t find or fix and that had somehow disappeared. Until we were testing our latest build last Thursday. We were playing on seven PlayStation 3 devkits, when suddenly 4 of them froze for about 90 seconds. Argh! We thought this really difficult bug had magically disappeared, but now it was back, with a vengeance! Again, no relevant logging. Yet something really interesting nevertheless: the PlayStations were in different online matches, so they weren’t even communicating with each other! So how could they all freeze at the exact same time? We concluded that the only thing they had in common, was that they all talk to the same Sony matchmaking servers, so we started investigating all our code related to that. Still, we couldn’t find anything. So we added a lot more logging, and did some really advanced stuff to get more info on the stack during the freeze (which is difficult to get from an executable that has been stripped of all debugging info), and started playing again. I let the PlayStations per-
form automatic testing all night, but the bug didn’t occur. Then we played the game for five more hours with the entire team and BAM!, it finally happened again on two consoles! This time, we had more info and it turned out that the game froze in different spots on both consoles, and both did not contain any calls to Sony’s matchmaking servers. In fact, it was in between two logging calls, in a spot where nothing relevant was happening. So we concluded there were only two possible causes: either other threads were hogging the entire CPU (due to how the scheduling system on the Playstation 3 works, high priority threads can do this permanently), or the logging itself was broken. So we started experimenting around that, and then we finally found the cause of this ‘bug’: when the PC that is tracking logs goes into sleep mode, the connected consoles freeze a little while later. Once the PC is active again, the consoles continue as well a little later. The PC that was tracking the logs automatically went into sleep mode after not touching it for 30 minutes. This only happened during extensive playtesting, because people normally actually use that PC. So it wasn’t even a bug in our code! ARGH! This may all seem really obvious in hindsight, but in general when we have a bug/freeze/crash it is in our own code, not in one of the tools we use. With such a big codebase, it is easy to not even think about something else. Also, in the chaos of 14 people playing the game on 7 consoles, it is easy to overlook one specific PC going into Sleep mode right before the consoles freeze... To be honest I still don’t know why not all consoles connected to that PC froze. But I intend to leave it at that...” Awesomenauts will be out this spring on PSN, XBLA and Steam.
24 CONTROL Q1 2012
Game research for training and entertainment
Contact We are very interested in collaboration with others. For more information about the GATE project, please see the GATE website at http://gate.gameresearch.nl or contact the scientific director Remco Veltkamp (R.C.Veltkamp@uu.nl).
The research program has the following four themes:
Within GATE a number of innovative pilot projects are carried out. The goal of these pilots is to create awareness of the potential of gaming and simulation in the sectors education, health care, and safety. In developing these prototypes we have established collaboration between game designers, creative artists, educational specialists, ICT experts, and domain experts. For example, we developed prototypes for a game for physics education, for non-verbal communications between patients and relatives, and for training mayors to deal with disasters.
The GATE Project It is always difficult to predict the future. But it is clear that the possibilities of gaming will rapidly increase over the coming years. New graphics and physics cards allow for increased visual realism but this must be accompanied by increased behavioral realism of game characters. New interface technology will enable a different, more natural form of communication and control. Gesture recognition, tactile feedback and direct brain connections will become possible. And new insight in learning processes in virtual worlds will improve the effectiveness of serious games. To advance the state-of-the-art in gaming and to facilitate knowledge transfer to companies, the Dutch government has funded the GATE project with a total budget of 19 million Euro. The project runs from 2007 till 2012 and involves seven partners: Utrecht University, Utrecht School of the Arts, TNO, Twente University, Delft University of Technology, Waag Society, and Thales. Ambition The ambition of the GATE project is to develop an international competitive knowledge base with respect to game technology and to train the talent required to enhance the productivity and competitive edge of small and medium-sized creative companies.The project assists companies producing (tools for) games and simulations by providing direct access to new technology. The project makes people aware of the possibilities of gaming in public sectors such as education, health and safety by performing pilots in these areas. The Dutch game research will be continued in the innovation network GATHER; for more information, see the contact box.
Remco Veltkamp Utrecht University Director GATE
Modeling the Virtual World focuses on techniques for semi-automatically creating convincing and engaging virtual worlds that can be used in games. The rationale behind this research is that the creation of virtual worlds has become one of the most costly parts of the construction of games. Virtual Characters deals with the creation of realistic behavior for the virtual characters that inhabit the games. These can be avatar representations of the users or computer-controlled characters. Such realistic behavior is important to increase the immersion of players in the game world. Interacting with the World studies novel interaction techniques that will improve the way users can control their games. For example, we study gesture recognition and brainmachine interfaces. In Learning with Simulated Worlds we study how games and virtual worlds can best be used for training and education. This will improve the quality and effectiveness of such serious games in the future.
Knowledge Transfer Projects GATE is not only about academic research into games and gametechnology. GATE is also geared towards developing this knowledge further into practical solutions. The mechanism to make that happen is through knowledge transfer projects in which small and medium size enterprises collaborate with research partners. Companies provide knowledge questions and intended applications. The research partners provide new technology. The projects combine these into practical solutions that make the research results fit-for-use for industry. In fifteen projects, the research results are assimilated into R&D efforts, to help these companies gaining a technical leading edge.
DIRECTORY OF SELECTED DUTCH GAME COMPANIES
THE HOLLAND PAVILION WWW.TASKFORCEINNOVATIE.NL • WWW.DUTCHGAMESASSOCIATION.NL
The Taskforce Innovation Utrecht Region (TFI) is a major player in accelerating the growth of the games-sector in the Netherlands, and in particular in Utrecht. The focus of TFI is to stimulate innovation through collaboration between R&D, business and the (local) government. TFI has been successful in developing a number of large programs stimulating the Dutch games industry, including the Dutch Game Garden, Dutch Game Valley (geared towards making serious business of serious games), and Level Up!, a program to match talent to the needs of the games industry. On top of this, TFI frequently organizes serious game jams in a wide range of crossover sectors, such as sustainability and health care. The Dutch Games Association (DGA) is the branch organi zation for the Dutch games industry. The mission of the DGA is to stimulate a healthy climate for the games industry in the Netherlands. To support this mission, DGA is involved in various activities ranging from organizing conferences and workshops to networking events. The association is also the main liaison for the Dutch Government when it comes to all disciplines within the games industry. TFI and DGA have joined forces to organize a Holland Pavilion at GDC 2012 in order to showcase our country’s reputation as a rapidly expanding game creating nation. The Holland Pavilion contributes to this by offering young, innovative and progressive entrepreneurs a place to show their work. The Holland Pavilion is made possible by a grant of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Province of Utrecht and the city council of Utrecht. Other project partners are Dutch Game Garden, TNO and Utrecht School of the Arts. INTERESTED?
Please do not hesitate to contact us. TASKFORCE INNOVATION UTRECHT REGION: www.taskforceinnovatie.nl, email@example.com or +31 30 2363 455 DUTCH GAMES ASSOCIATION: www.dutchgamesassociation.nl, firstname.lastname@example.org or +31 6 1208 5949
YOU CAN FIND THE HOLLAND PAVILION AT GDC EXPO BOOTH #2102 TASKFORCE INNOVATION UTRECHT REGION • INFO@TASKFORCEINNOVATIE.NL • DUTCH GAMES ASSOCIATION • CONTACT@DUTCHGAMESASSOCIATION.NL
26 CONTROL Q1 2012
DIRECTORY OF SELECTED DUTCH GAME COMPANIES
DEVELOPER AND PUBLISHER OF REALTIME MULTIPLAYER SOCIAL GAMES. WWW.GAMEPOINT.NET
GamePoint is a real-time multiplayer social game developer and publisher. Playing one of our games, users soon find out that they’re not alone: They’re playing with and against others. They’re in a Bingo game with thousands of other players, playing a dice game with a handful of opponents or enjoying a one-on-one game of WordTornado. All our games are geared towards helping people make social connections within the game. They don’t play for a day, weeks or even months: They stick around for years. We’ve been active in the social gaming space for over a decade now and have managed to use those years of experience to create games with an average time spent per visit of over 130 minutes! In 2012 we’ve taken the first steps towards becoming a truly cross-platform realtime multiplayer gaming experience with the launch of an iPad app and a number of mobile apps slated to be launched later this year.
Spelpunt w w w. s p e l p u nt . n l
Bingo, PartyDice, SpinBingo, WordTornado, CardParty, RummyClub, Battle Solitaire, Darts, Backgammon, ScratchBingo, Okey, Teasers, Hearts, Rummy, Pictionary and over a dozen more LOOKING FOR
Websites with sizeable traffic in one of our core markets. We can offer our partners more time spent on their website, more return visits and more revenue. Integrate GamePoint games and keep your users engaged with synchronous multiplayer: They’ll play, they’ll chat, meet new people, spend money and come back for more. That’s more time on the partner’s website and a rev share on every virtual currency purchase they make. RIK HAANDRIKMAN DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT • +31 (0)6 131 386 59 • RIK@GAMEPOINT.COM • GEVERS DEYNOOTWEG 93G • 2586 BK THE HAGUE
27 CONTROL Q1 2012
DIRECTORY OF SELECTED DUTCH GAME COMPANIES
INTERNATIONAL MARKET RESEARCH AND CONSULTING SERVICES COVERING ALL GAME BUSINESS MODELS. WWW.NEWZOO.COM
Newzoo is an international market research firm focused on the games industry. Newzoo aims to provide the independent consumer market data across all game business models. The company also operates the free B2B portal Gamesindustry. com and publishes the Games Industry Black Book. Newzoo’s clients include Kabam, Zynga, Ubisoft, GREE, Blizzard, Microsoft, SpilGames and RTL Group. DEVELOPED
• Games Market and Trend Reports: Key high-level facts and trends on the hottest topics • Newzoo Data Explorer: online environment facilitating client-specific market analyses • The Games Industry Black Book: distributed in print as well as online and mobile. • Gamesindustry.com: the only completely free global B2B networking destination LOOKING FOR
Companies interested in market intelligence to support their marketing, business development and strategic decision making, as well as keynotes, business plans and investor pitches. Newzoo is also looking for partners who have data or publications that could be of value to our clients. PETER WARMAN CEO • +31 (0)20 66 35 816 • PETER@NEWZOO.COM • VALKENBURGERSTRAAT 196B • 1011 NC AMSTERDAM
INTERACTIVE 3D GLOBAL HOSTING SERVICES FOR PC, XBOX LIVE AND PLAYSTATION NETWORK. WWW.I3D.NET
Interactive 3D is a global hosting provider with a strong focus on the gaming industry. Our in house developed control panel, combined with our global hosting services, are used by various publishers and developers to host and manage their global server clusters. Our hosting solution is cross platform compatible with Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC and has supported the launch of multiple AAA titles. DEVELOPED
Global hosting solutions for: Battlefield 3, Homefront, Quake Live, Heroes of Newerth, Bad Company 2, Monday Night Combat, Shattered Horizon, Medal of Honor, Frontlines: Fuel of War, Battlefield 1943, Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield: Play4Free LOOKING FOR
Publishers, developers and content delivery networks looking for managed and unmanaged hosting solutions for PC, Xbox Live and/or Playstation Network.
STIJN KOSTER CEO • +31 (0)10 890 0070 • S.KOSTER@I3D.NET • MEENT 93B • 3011 JG ROTTERDAM
28 CONTROL Q1 2012
i3D.net Interactive 3D
DIRECTORY OF SELECTED DUTCH GAME COMPANIES
INDEPENDENT GAME DEVELOPER. WWW.TWOTRIBES.COM
Two Tribes is an independent game development studio, currently working on their long-awaited sequel Toki Tori 2! The game is being developed for PC/Mac, Wii U and iOS.
•L icensed: Garfield (DS), Worms: Open Warfare 2 (DS), Rubik’s World (DS, Wii) •O riginal: Toki Tori, RUSH, Swap This!, Toki Tori 2. •P orted: Swords & Soldiers (iOS), EDGE (PC/Mac), Frenzic (DSi) LOOKING FOR
Give us a call if you’d like to see or write about Toki Tori 2. We have a great build at GDC that we’d like to show you! COLLIN VAN GINKEL CREATIVE DIRECTOR • +31 (0)6 143 69 759 • COLLIN@TWOTRIBES.COM • ARNHEMSEWEG 6 – 5.01 • 3817 CH AMERSFOORT
PUBLISHER OF SOCIAL-GAMING PLATFORMS. WWW.SPILGAMES.COM
Spil Games’ mission is to unite the world in play through a localized global network of online social-gaming platforms tailored to girls, teens, and families. These platforms, localised in 19 languages, entertain 170 million unique visitors from around the world each month. LOOKING FOR
Spil is looking to meet developers working on games suitable for our core audiences: • Boys: 10-15 • Girls 8-12 •F amilies (broad, largely female audience). As well as mobile (iOS, Android, HTML5) content for Boys and Girls.
JEROEN BOUWMAN HEAD OF GAME LICENSING • +31 (0) 35 64 66 300 • JEROEN.BOUWMAN@SPILGAMES.COM • ARENDSTRAAT 23 • 1223 RE HILVERSUM
29 CONTROL Q1 2012
DIRECTORY OF SELECTED DUTCH GAME COMPANIES
COOK & BECKER
THE LEADING PROVIDER OF MOBILE BROWSER-BASED GAMING DESTINATIONS. WWW.BOOSTERMEDIA.COM
THE PREMIER FINE ART GALLERY FOR THE GAMES INDUSTRY. WWW.CANDB.COM
Woordemerk BoosterMedia is the leading provider of mobile gaming destinations for online media, game websites, social networks, MNOs, OEMs. We develop and aggregate mobile browser games.
+ Beeldmerk Cook & Becker Stempel sells and exhibits art from theWoorderk entertainment and games industry. We represent individual artists and studios and focus on both personal work and commercial projects.
Aanschaf van de fonts: DEVELOPED
• Mobile Gaming Destination Utopia Std Italic: http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/adobe/utopia/ Partners Include MSN, Neutra: MTV, Display GameHouse Titling http://www.houseind.com/fonts/neutraface (Zylom.com), Jeux.com, Clickjogos.com.br • Sample Mobile Social Game www.jewelclubgame.com DEVELOPED
• The Killzone Collection, Art.Fair 2011 Exhibition
• Social networks, gaming and media brands • MNOs and OEMs • Distribution partners for mobile social games • Mobile browser-based games (HTML5)
• Buyers and Artists
ROBBERT HOOGSTRATEN SALES MANAGER •+31 (0)30 32 000 70 ROBBERT.HOOGSTRATEN@BOOSTERMEDIA.COM • NEUDE 5 • 3512 AD UTRECHT
MAARTEN BRANDS & RUBEN BRANDS ART DEALER • +31 (0)30 320 0530 INFO@CANDB.COM • NIEUWEGRACHT 19 • 3512 LC UTRECHT
GRAFISCH LYCEUM UTRECHT SPLYNG
INTERMEDIATE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION FOR THE CREATIVE AND GAME INDUSTRIES. WWW.GLU.NL
DEVELOPER OF CROSS-PLATFORM MULTIPLAYER MIDDLEWARE. WWW.SPLYNG.COM
We provide the Game Industry with skilled Game Artists and Developers. We uphold a firm network via internships and our game studio at the DGG. DEVELOPED
Students work on projects for semi-professional clients creating games on the complete scope of the gaming branch.
We provide cross-platform multiplayer middleware as ‘Software As A service’. Create games that can be played on multiple platforms with one account! DEVELOPED
The middleware is compatible with iOS, Unity, Android, Flash and HTML5. The following features are supported: Lobby, Chat, Matchmaking, User Management, Database Clustering, Rooms, World Editor, Event System, Payments, amongst others. The service comes with deployment tools for all cloud hosted solutions like Amazon and Rackspace. LOOKING FOR
Developers in need for a multiplayer engine.
Cooperation with gaming companies and other institutions involved in gaming worldwide.
MARJOLEIN DE JAGER HEAD OF DEPARTMENT INTERACTIVE DESIGN AND GAME DEVELOPMENT •+31 (0)30 280 70 70 • MJAGER@GLU.NL VONDELLAAN 178 • 3502 JB UTRECHT
ILJA GOOSSENS FOUNDER • +31 (0)6 15 080 650 • ILJA@SPLYNG.COM TEMPELHOFSTRAAT 2 • 1043 EC AMSTERDAM
30 CONTROL Q1 2012
DIRECTORY OF SELECTED DUTCH GAME COMPANIES
RETAILING ONLINE CONTENT CONTACT. WWW.QINQO.COM
PRODUCTION HOUSE. WWW.GREENHILLSTUDIOS.COM
Retailing Online Content via dedicated premium prepaid cards sold in-store and via stand alone vending machines.
Green Hill is a dedicated production house focused on discovering, developing and promoting quality game projects. We provide business representation and development services for game studios, publishers and investors.
CR E ATE | DEVELOP | PUBLISH
•P roject placement and fundraising • I nitiating and managing co-productions • Game design and production • Crisis management • Consultancy • IP development
Content Partners for our dedicated premium prepaid cards sold in-store and via stand alone vending machines.
RUSSELL BEADLE SENIOR MANAGER GLOBAL LICENSING & PARTNERSHIPS +31 (0)26 202 03 06 • RUSSELL.BEADLE@QINQO.COM • THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE • 8TH FLOOR • NIEUWE STATIONSSTRAAT 10 • 6811 KS ARNHEM
Developers, Publishers, IP, Investors, Work-for-hire partners MAARTEN DE KONING MANAGING DIRECTOR • +31 (0)6 11 603 936 MAARTEN@GREENHILLSTUDIOS.COM • TORENALLEE 45 • 5617 BA EINDHOVEN
AMSTERDAM IN BUSINESS KALYDO
THE OFFICIAL FOREIGN INVESTMENT AGENCY OF THE AMSTERDAM AREA. WWW.AMSTERDAMINBUSINESS.COM
KALYDO PROVIDES INSTANT PLAYABILITY FOR ANY HIGH-END GAME IN A COST EFFECTIVE WAY. WWW.KALYDO.COM
We assist (free service) international gaming companies who are interested in further expansion into Europe by setting up their business in Amsterdam.
Kalydo provides instant playability for any high-end game in a cost effective way. Kalydo revolutionizes the way developers and publishers distribute and operate their games.
We offer easy access to markets, availability of international talent, competitive fiscal climate and cost efficient IT infrastructure to host online services or distribute digital content.
Kalydo powers games such as Runes of Magic, Godswar Online, Conquer Online, 4Story and Nostale.
As a gaming company with international ambitions/presence, you might have plans for (further) expansion into Europe in the near future. We can assist you!
Our customers include: Cartoon Network, Shanda Games, Frogster, Gameforge, Gravity, Barunson and Netdragon. LOOKING FOR
Developers and Publishers to launch new and existing games on the Kalydo platform. ANNELIES IN ’T VELD SENIOR MANAGER FOREIGN INVESTMENTS • +31 (0)6 1204 6446 • VELD@EZ.AMSTERDAM.NL • P.O. BOX 2133 • 1000 CC AMSTERDAM
RICHARD VAN BARNEVELD BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR • +31 (0) 407 620 700 R.VANBARNEVELD@KALYDO.COM • PARADIJSLAAN 5 • 5611 KM EINDHOVEN
31 CONTROL Q1 2012
W W W. G D C E U R O P E . C O M Call for submissions opens Spring 2012.
Magazine for the game industry with articles on the Storytelling in Games, Global Game Jam, The Lamest Bug Ever, Adaptive Music in Games and...
Published on Mar 11, 2012
Magazine for the game industry with articles on the Storytelling in Games, Global Game Jam, The Lamest Bug Ever, Adaptive Music in Games and...