The Ryan Lambie Column: GDC 2009

Ryan takes a look at the goings of the Games Developer's Conference 2009...

Mr Ryan Lambie's amazing joypad.

Crikey, The Ryan Lambie Column’s a whole year old. That’s around fifty-two weeks of moaning, ranting, a side order of mindless fan-worship, and then a whole lot more moaning. It’s a testament to the breadth and maturity of the video game industry that, twelve months on, I can still think of things to whinge about – which is important, of course, because what would the games industry do without bitter, disgruntled bloggers like me around to keep them in check?

Thanks to this humble column, the Gordon Ramsay video game was pulled from the shelves, Anne Diamond has learned to stop worrying and love gaming, the success of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts has ushered in a new era of retro platformers, and Nintendo has finally managed to sort out the Wii’s terminal lack of storage space. It’s all true!

Looking back through the columns of bygone weeks, it’s hard not to feel encouraged by some of the comments left by my loyal readers. Comments like:

“Do you know the maple mesos? It is very interesting and if you have enough mesos,you can be strong. So i often go to play the game to get more and more cheap mesos, sometimes i can get the maplestory mesos from my friends who i know in the game. However i like the game very much because of the maple story mesos, i want to play the game more often.”

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Some fascinating comments from Kitty_1 there – I think we’ve all enjoyed a cheap meso or two in our time. My favourite comment of the past twelve months, however, comes from Miladyblue:

“What’s a pillock?:

In all seriousness though, thanks to everyone who has read and left comments on this modest blog – you make my weekly ranting worthwhile, and for every comment I get, another kitten goes to heaven.

Anyway, that’s enough self-congratulation – on to this week’s subject: the Game Developer’s Conference, which is currently underway in San Francisco.

As I sit writing this, news is flooding in about a new Zelda game for the DS called Spirit Tracks. If you haven’t heard of it until now, this latest instalment in Nintendo’s most famous adventure franchise will feature the contentious art style of The Wind Waker – cel-shaded, primary colours, big heads, big eyes. It’ll also revive the same top-down perspective of Phantom Hourglass, and the interactive map will be making a reappearance too. Then things get a bit weird, because Spirit Tracks will also be about driving trains – big chuffing steam trains.

To be fair, the train appears to fulfil the same role as the boat did in Phantom Hourglass – they’re just a conveyance which takes you from one area to another. Even so, it does make me wonder whether unexpected forms of transport will become a new staple in the Zelda franchise. What next, Link in a Ford Fiesta?

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Elsewhere, Remedy Entertainment’s presence at GDC has led to breathless speculation that they may be about to finally reveal some footage of Alan Wake – a game that has become the industry equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster: tons of speculation, but no firm evidence that anything actually exists.

Team Ico’s Fumito Ueda was similarly vague about his current project. “Well, probably it will be similar to the past… we are struggling. The essence of the game is rather close to Ico,” he said, in typically enigmatic style. At this rate, we’ll be seeing the first trailers in about three years.

At least Crytek were a little more forthcoming, and with good reason – their technical trailer shows their new CryEngine 3 in action on the 360 and PS3, and it looks very impressive indeed, with rich, detailed textures, splashy water effects and gorgeous lighting. I’m not normally the type of person that gets excited by tech demos, but even I have to admit it looks incredible.

Going back to Nintendo, Satoru Iwata has just announced the VC Arcade – which essentially means there’ll be more old games to download for the Wii, with Mappy, Gaplus, Tower Of Druaga (no, I’ve never heard of it either) and Starforce among the first available.

And finally, Nintendo have managed to get around to solving the Wii’s pitiful storage situation; a future firmware update will allow Wiiware and Virtual Console games to be played from a high-capacity SD card. Didn’t I tell you the Ryan Lambie Column was influential? Don’t all thank me at once…

Ryan writes his gaming column every week at Den Of Geek. Last week’s is here.

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