Posts Tagged ‘Epic Games’
Feast your eyes on this delicious pie chart.
Shared by Epic Games Vice President and Co-Founder Mark Rein via TwitPic, it shows a recent report from Acacia Research Corporation that puts the Cary-based gaming powerhouse far and above all of its competitors in the 3D engine market. With a whopping 65-percent market share in 2010, the company’s Unreal Engine outpaced its closest rival, the Austin, Texas-based Vision Engine, nearly threefold.
The company’s prominent market position is probably aided by its distribution strategy. The entire Unreal Development Kit, which game designers can use to create content on par with flagship titles like Gears of War and Mass Effect, is free for educational and non-commercial use. With a $99 licensing fee, developers can sell their games royalty-free until their sales exceed $50,000. The company has even sponsored several events in the local area, like Unreal University at the East Coast Game Conference, to spread the use of its engine.
But there’s more good news from this report for the Triangle. Another top engine, Gamebryo, was also developed by a Research Triangle Park company. With its product, Gamebase USA claims about 6 percent of the market, matching the share of another industry favorite, Unity.
All told, that means Triangle gaming technology is powering almost three-quarters of all 3D gaming titles. And when you’re talking about an industry that pulled in $18.6 billion in 2010, that’s no small matter.
Cary-based Epic Games had more announcements this week for fans despondent over the end of the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta.
The special preview of the anticipated title, which allowed a select few to battle each other to the death on new maps, ended Sunday night. While the full version of the game isn’t due out on store shelves until Sept. 20, Epic dropped another morsel in the lap of its fan base Monday: details about the coveted limited editions.
On top of the regular game, which will retail for $59.99, the special editions will include premium downloadable content and collectables — all available only in limited quantities. Here are the details, per Epic’s press release:
Epic Edition – $149.99
• The “Art and Design of Gears of War” by Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. The book is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the game, with 96 pages of interviews, photos, concept artwork and more.
• Infected Omen Weapon Pack – custom multiplayer skins for the game’s five starting weapons; Lancer, Retro Lancer, Hammerburst, Sawed-off Shotgun and Gnasher Shotgun.
• Everything in the limited edition.
Limited Edition – $79.99
• An Octus Award Box with Octus Service Medal. A 1:1 match in size and weight, this zinc-alloy cog-shaped medal replicates the award given to Adam Fenix, father of the game’s main character, in recognition of his work on the Hammer of Dawn, a devastating weapon in the war against the Locust.
• Exclusive unlockable Adam Fenix Multiplayer character – Each Octus Service Medal replica is engraved with a unique Xbox LIVE code that is the only way to unlock Adam Fenix in multiplayer.
• A fabric Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) Flag
• The personal effects of Adam Fenix, including his “Last Will and Testament,” the initial Hammer of Dawn schematic and other Fenix family mementos.
But Epic’s not likely done hyping the crown jewel of its trilogy, the first two parts of which sold more than 12 million copies since the saga began in 2006. Franchise Executive Producer Rod Fergusson announced on Twitter last week that if Gears of War 3 wins IGN’s Most Anticipated Game Award, they’ll run a week-long event granting players 30 times the points in the Gears of War 2 multiplayer during the E3 Conference June 6.
Can’t wait until then? Then satisfy your bloodlust with this gruesome execution montage, from IGN (warning: graphic). Cheers!
It was barely 10 a.m. Thursday and Timothy Gregory was already busy creating worlds.
With a few gestures, he willed the ground into existence, adding texture and flooding his environment with water. Minutes later, he added grim, metallic structures: from complex pillars to blinking machines with unknown functions. Then with a click of his mouse, he created light. Read more…
The Escapist, an online gaming magazine based in Durham, is allowing users to vote for their favorite developers during its March Mayhem 2011 tournament. Among the bevy of 64 competitors are the Triangle’s own heavy hitters — Epic and Insomniac — which have already progressed to round two of the tournament.
Voting for round two ends Saturday at noon and the final round will wrap up April 4.
And what good would a tournament be if you can’t fill out a bracket for bragging rights and prizes? Although the deadline for filing a bracket was March 14, users can still vote for their favorite developers through the end of the tourney.
So when you’re done helplessly watching your teams and brackets crash and burn in the NCAA showdowns this month, pop on over to The Escapist and cast a vote for our home teams. It’ll feel better than yelling at the big screen.
As he piloted his Army Apache toward his landing zone, Jerry Heneghan knew he was in trouble.
Without warning, one of his helicopter’s twin engines began belching flame into the night sky, threatening to set the entire aircraft ablaze. Without thinking, he acted in the pitch black of the cockpit, flipping switches by feel and following procedures as he’d done hundreds of times before. There was no hesitation, no surge of adrenaline.
At least until he landed.
“It was only afterwards when I got the aircraft on the ground that I was like, ‘Oh my God, what just happened? I could have turned extra crispy up there,’” Heneghan said.
His survival had nothing to do with good fortune. Before ever stepping foot in a $20 million cockpit, he underwent an intensive training regimen that spanned a gamut of learning techniques from low-tech cockpit posters to full-motion flight simulators housed in gymnasium-sized facilities.
“I know that being in a simulator for thousands of hours over a 15-year career saved my life,” he said. “The time that I should have been most panicked, I was very calm.”
Heneghan, now the managing director of Raleigh-based game developer Virtual Heroes, is out to bring that simulated training approach to doctors, nurses and even combat medics. And he wants to put this training in their pockets. By building on local gaming technology and medical expertise, Virtual Heroes’ upcoming HumanSim aims to allow medical professionals at all levels to hone their skills almost anywhere — whether it’s on the iPad or the PC. Read more…
The sci-fi action-shooter — a collaboration between Epic, People Can Fly and Electronic Arts — follows space pirate Grayson Hunt as he blasts his way through a paradise planet filled with destruction. Central to the gameplay are bonus points for “killing with skill” — finding creative ways to dispatch your enemies using combinations of outlandish weapons, the deadly environment and an energy whip.
Did I mention it was rated “M” for mature?
The demo is only about seven minutes long (six if you make the target time), but it’s packed with enough bullets and body parts to satiate most fans of first-person shooters.
I think the full game will too. At least for a little while. Read more…
Gears of War 3, a highly anticipated title from Cary-based Epic Games, is set to hit stores in fall 2011.| Photo courtesy of Epic Games
If North Carolina’s newly enacted tax incentives for the video game industry are anything like those in Texas, they could give the area some much-needed job growth.
A new report from the Lone Star State attributes the addition of 1,700 jobs in the gaming industry over the last year-and-a-half in large part to tax incentives passed in 2007. North Carolina’s own tax incentive package went into effect this week with the start of the New Year.
Signed at the Cary headquarters of Epic Games in July, the law grants a 15 percent tax credit to companies on development costs greater than $50,000, capped at $7.5 million. Working with community college and universities in the state boosts the credit to 20 percent. In Texas, qualifying developers get back 5 to 6.25 percent of what they spend in the state for projects greater than $100,000.
The prospects for job growth in North Carolina’s gaming industry are good, according to N.C. State economics professor Mike Walden, author of North Carolina in the Connected Age. But he said incentives might not be the main reason.
In an e-mail interview Friday morning, Walden said the state’s vibrant tech sector, higher education community and the presence of a young, well-educated workforce make the Triangle attractive to developers.
“Even without incentives, I think the gaming industry will expand in the Triangle region of North Carolina,” Walden said in an e-mail.
Walden points out that tax credits can certainly “sweeten the deal” for gaming companies looking to relocate or expand, but he said it’s hard to assess whether the incentives are the deciding factor.
“Before the state offers incentives, they make a projection of whether the incentives will ultimately ‘pay for themselves’ by creating enough additional tax revenue from the new economic activity,” he said in an e-mail. “Of course, the question is always whether the firm would have located here even without the incentives. We never know.”
In fact, Walden said the ground is so fertile for the gaming industry here in the Triangle those incentives might not be necessary at all.
“Only my opinion, but if there’s a high chance the firms would locate here without the incentives, then ‘saving’ the incentives for firms more difficult to attract would be the better policy,” Walden said in an e-mail.
With unemployment in the Triangle now up to 7.9 percent in November, the state could certainly use almost 2,000 more jobs from the growing gaming industry.
Hopefully, not everything’s bigger in Texas.
Mobile gamers looking for a little more action from their handheld devices might want to spare a minute.
The trailer for Cary-based Epic Games’ Infinity Blade hit the Web last week featuring axe-wielding giants, massive castles and fast-paced swordplay. The 3-D fantasy title, which combines hack-and-slash action and RPG elements, will be available this holiday season for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
The company and its Salt Lake City-based developer ChAIR haven’t released pricing or the official release date, but if the title’s introduction at September’s Apple event is any indication, it’s likely received the golden seal of approval from Cupertino.
Gamers got their first taste of Infinity Blade with the release of Epic Citadel, a free app that served as a tech demo for the then-codenamed “Project Sword.” In mid-September, Epic Vice President Mark Rein said the 3-D walkthrough hit 1 million downloads shortly after its Sept. 1 release.
Epic is certainly throwing the gauntlet down with its first mobile gaming entry. The graphics are pretty impressive by next-generation console standards, so I’m excited to get my hands on the touchscreen and try it out.
Women represent a huge portion of the market for the $10.5 billion video game industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association, females account for 40 percent of all players. At 33 percent of the gaming population, adult women even outnumber boys age 17 or younger. But despite those statistics, the male-dominated industry is still widely criticized for its portrayal of women.
But some female gamers, like IBM Gaming and Interactive Manager Phaedra Boinodiris, are working to change that portrayal – and get more women interest and playing and creating games. Science in the Triangle spoke with Boinodiris, the co-creator of WomenGamers.com, about the state of the industry and how it’s changing when it comes to women.
How did you first get into gaming?
My sister and I have been playing forever, ever since the days of Pong. I know that completely dates me – it’s scary. We knew we played and our friends played and our cousins played, but we’d open up most gaming magazines and look at gaming websites and they were targeted toward young men. So we decided to start a company, WomenGamers.com. That’s how we got the site of the ground.
How long did it take you when you were younger to notice how slanted the gaming industry is toward men?
It was gradual. I don’t know if you recall the first advertisements on television for the Atari or for ColecoVision, but if you take a look at what those looked like, you’d always see families playing together. Then there was this subtle shift in the kind of marketing that gaming companies were doing to focus more and more on a predominantly male audience. It was very interesting to us to note this shift.
So one day we were invited to a marketing to women online conference — this was back in the late 90s – and there was a panel on women in gaming. There was so much interest from big companies. Mattel, at the time, was really investing in that space. There was a lot of conversation about where this was going and how it was untapped. We just walked away thinking there was a lot of opportunity here to showcase this untapped market and really provide service.
Given the statistics about women gamers and gaming parents, why do you think the industry fails to market to women appropriately?
Because they have very few women working for them. If there were more women game designers, for example, if there were more women who were on staff working within these companies, you would see a bigger shift.
It wasn’t until Nintendo decided to make a play in that space to go after the more casual gamer that you would see huge changes in marketing and advertising. I remember before the Nintendo Wii, you would go to conferences like E3 – you would never see a poster of a woman actually playing a game. If you saw a woman, if she was depicted at all, she was typically in a chain mail bikini. But once the Nintendo Wii came out, there was a big push toward showing women playing.
They were on the frontier, and obviously they scored big with that. It wasn’t until after Nintendo made that big play that people started to wake up to this notion of the casual gamer and going after new blood. So you have more social games, like Farmville, mobile games, going after a bigger and bigger audience.
Do you think the industry’s lack of female roles and often misogynistic overtones turn off female gamers who would otherwise want to play?
Absolutely. It perpetuates a stigma of what working within the game industry is like. It’s a shame because if women consider it as a boy’s club that’s really exclusionary, why would they ever try to, as their career, work there?
We really have a job to do to make sure the gaming industry itself is considered more inclusive so we can include more women who work there. This isn’t just to benefit women, by the way. You include women as game designers, you’re going to get whole new genres of games that don’t exist. I’m noticing with my daughter, she approaches certain games in a very different way. I’ve spoken with professors who teach game design and development classes who also remark upon the fact that the female students they have in their classes end up creating things that are really different from the status quo out on the market.
It will mean a lot more diversity in the market of games out there. Also, it means some serious profit for these game studios because they’re going after a larger and larger audience.
In hardcore games, the female role does seem to be changing. We have female soldiers in the new Gears of War and Halo titles. Mass Effect 2 also has very prominent females as major players in the game. Are gaming companies starting to realize they need to put more females in these larger roles?
Actually, for the titles you mentioned, I don’t think they’re doing that to attract women necessarily. I think they’re primary reason for including women is for the men.
We’ve done a lot of studies and we’ve seen that a lot of the male game players prefer to play females, especially in [massively multiplayer online role playing games]. You ask them why, and they say, “Well they’re nicer to look at.” Secondly, they’ve found that when they’re playing a female character, a female avatar, others within the game will assume they’re a female playing. They’ve said they actually get a lot of free stuff – weaponry, swords, all kinds of things! It’s interesting to see the dynamic there in terms of the men choosing to play the female avatars.
Do you think one part of the solution here is sparking the interest of young women in math and science early on?
Absolutely, and my sister and I have done a lot of talks at elementary schools and middle schools about this subject. There’s been a huge drop in the number of women in math and science ever since the Bush era. One of the ways that we purport to be able to encourage women back into these fields is to encourage them to design games, early.
If you think about it, from my personal experience, the way that I got interested in math and science was absolutely because of games. It is a fun pursuit, especially the idea of designing your own. It’s play, if you will. What better way to get enthusiastic about subject matter than by playing in it to begin with? The idea is that you encourage young women, young girls to play these games, to design their own games, so hopefully they’ll be able to see why having a field in computer science or math or physics would be interesting.
Do universities have a role to play when it comes to encouraging women in science, technology, engineering and math fields?
Absolutely, but I think it’s a challenge. From an even earlier age than college, why is it that they’re being turned away from math and science? That question needs to be answered.
Whether it’s [creating] a game or a software application, it takes a lot more than programming. It takes good writing skills, good scripting, texture design, art, sound. In my case, for serious games, it takes a lot of business acumen and knowledge of complex systems.
For those women who think, “Programming is not really my thing,” that should not deter them from looking into this space anyway.
Was there a moment for you at some point in your childhood that you knew going into a science- or math-related field was for you?
It wasn’t a sudden thing. Both of my parents were retired IBMers and we had computers all the time in our house. They were very big on education and very big on math and science. It was something we always enjoyed and something we always loved and embraced. No one ever scared us off of that.
We were lucky to grow up in an environment that was very nurturing for us to like those fields and not feel like we’re eating our Brussels sprouts.
Looking forward, is there something that gives you hope about the future of the role of female gamers?
Everything I see. Look at the big push toward mobile gaming and casual gaming and what’s happening with the Nintendo Wii and how they’re outpacing everybody. It’s a huge wake-up call to companies. They’re really saying, “Gee, we really missed the boat. We really need to refocus on what we’re doing here. ”They’re looking at their staff and saying, “Who here knows how to target women? Who here knows how to make a gender inclusive game?”
They really are trying to learn at this point, not for good karma or altruistic feelings, but because it makes sense for the bottom line.