GDC Europe 2012: All the talks, announcements, and big reveals

The Game Developers Conference has made its way to Cologne, Germany, and among all the developer talks and video game post-mortems are game announcements and big reveals as the event leads into Gamescom. Over the course of three days development studios big and small will descend on Germany to make announcements on upcoming games, tease updates to existing games, and share their wealth of knowledge and experience with all who attend. Follow Polygon's coverage of GDC Europe as our writers venture into the land where breakfast is called "frushtick".

GDC Europe welcomes new high of 2,100 attendees, next year's conference dated

This year's Game Developers Conference Europe hosted over 2,100 video game industry professionals from around the world, a new record for the 4-year-old show based in Cologne, Germany, organizer UBM TechWeb announced today.

The company will return to Cologne for GDC Europe 2013, which will be held from August 19-21st, 2013.

GDC Europe 2011 also reached the 2,100-person mark, but the 2012 convention managed to eclipse last year's tally. "We're very proud that GDC Europe once again exceeded expectations," said Meggan Scavio, general manager of Game Developer Conference events, "thanks to our...

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Crysis 3 will punish your PC, but only if you want it to

The original Crysis was the sort of punishing, resource-hungry computer game that set a new, very high bar for PC gaming rigs when it hit in 2007. But when Crysis 2 hit in 2011 it initially took much of the user options away from PC gamers.

Crysis 3 will return to a system that can, if a gamer want it to, push a gaming rig to its limits, Carl Jones, director of business development at Crytek, told Polygon.

"What we did in Crysis 2 ... was a massive amount of optimization because we were aiming at the consoles as target platforms, we didn't dumb the game down ... actually what we did...

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'Mass Effect 2' has best completion percentage among Mass Effect, Dragon Age series

Among BioWare's current-generation role-playing franchises, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2 has the best completion percentage, BioWare announced during a GDC Europe panel yesterday.

BioWare's director of online development, Fernando Melo, presented a graph showing the completion percentages for the studio's games. In this case, "completion percentage" refers to the proportion of a game's player base that saw the story all the way through to the end. Here are the statistics, according to BioWare:

  • Mass Effect - 40 percent
  • Mass Effect 2 - 56 percent
  • Mass Effect 3 - 42 percent
  • ...

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Mobile game developers must rely on publishers to thrive

Independent mobile games developers must rely on publishers to thrive in the current market, according to Electronic Entertainment Design and Research vice president Jesse Divnich at today's GDC Europe presentation.

Divnich stated mobile developers require a program in the form of EA Partners in order to retain success in an over-saturated market, as "simply making great games doesn't work anymore."

"We need an EA Partners for the mobile industry," he said. "We need that now."

Divnich emphasized the value of publishers over venture capitalists; he said developers tell him they prefer...

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Facebook gamers now number 235 million, 15 percent more than last year

The number of users who play games on Facebook has increased by more than 15 percent since last year, jumping from 205 million to 235 million, according to new data released by the company. A significant amount of the growth has been driven by Facebook's relatively new App Center feature, which is upping both install and return play rates.

When encountering games through the App Center, users are 2.4 times more likely to take the plunge and install them than when using the older system. Perhaps more importantly, 35 percent of those users return to play the game again the next day, with a...

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Free-to-play games developers should expect 70 percent drop in users

Free-to-play game developers should expect a 70 percent drop in initial registered users, according to former Empire: Total War designer Jan van der Crabben during a keynote presentation at this year's GDC Europe.

Player retention is key for the success of free-to-play titles, Crabben explained, adding that while most players leave free-to-play titles within the first few minutes of registering, the number of users who stick with a game by the fourth day will generally continue to play. He went on to state free-to-play games must hook players within the first three minutes, while developers...

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Capcom reveals 'Remember Me,' a new action IP

Capcom has revealed Remember Me, a new game and franchise from Paris, France-based developer Dontnod Entertainment.

A brief trailer in the game showed off a young woman running and precariously leaping through a dystopian future city. Her memory has been erased, as she frequently discloses during the trailer, at one point asking, "I'm the hunter, why am I being hunted?"

The game's director explained that memory is an important part of the game, sharing an intimate memory of how he met his girlfriend. "What if we could all have access to all the memories of all the people in this room," he...

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'Lost Planet 3' teases cover system and new weapons

Capcom teased new features for its upcoming space shooter, Lost Planet 3, today, showing off a brand new cover system and weapons.

The developers showed off The Winch, which is a new tool for the Rig that allows players to perform hookshots. In a demo shown at GDC Europe, The Winch was used to kill smaller enemies and players could attach it to the environment to use as a zipline.

The demo showed the player using the new weapon on a brand new boss, the Spitter, which is a giant scorpion that shoots debilitating poison from its tail.

Polygon will have a preview of Lost Planet 3 later this...

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Mobile is the new PC, but not how you think

"In my opinion mobile is the new PC," Niklas Smedberg, senior engine programmer at Epic Games, told a gathering of developers during this week's GDC Europe.

As with computer games, mobile games have to function on an increasingly wide range of phones of varying power. The best solution, Smedberg said, is to allow mobile gamers to tinker with the settings of the games themselves.

"There is a wide performance range, so we have to be able to scale our graphics," he said. "We have to be able to scale from the very high end to the low end.

"All of those kind of PC settings you see in PC games,...

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BioWare director explains the math of day-one DLC

Love it or hate it, day-one downloadable content makes sense for both game developers and consumers, according to BioWare Edmonton director of online development Fernando Melo.

For BioWare, which has included day-one downloadable content for all its games from Dragon Age: Origins to Mass Effect 3, a lot of it boils down to simple math: development budgets for post-launch downloadable content incorporate attach rates for that content against the total sales of the game. That attach rate decreases steadily as weeks after launch pass — according to Melo, putting the content in front of the...

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'Spec Ops' developer doubts a sequel, working on a new game

Spec Ops: The Line will likely not be getting a sequel, design lead Jorg Friedrich said in a panel at GDC Europe.

Developer Yager is working on a larger unannounced game, with Friedrich insinuating the numbers for Spec Ops were not good enough to merit a sequel. "To be honest, it doesn't look too great," he said.

In the panel Friedrich discussed the emotional impact of player choice and the importance of moral decisions in game narrative. He argued that having players make deeply-impacting moral decisions is more powerful than watching characters make pre-written, determined actions. He...

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'Mafia 2' developers not able to play or test game 'until very late' in development

The developers behind 2010's Mafia 2 were not able to play or test the game until "very late" in development, according to 2K Czech designer Jarek Kolar during a post-mortem presentation today at GDC Europe.

Describing the process of developing the title, Kolar explained that while the game was not playable, the team would test the title by "just imagining things, doing it on paper."

The difficulties of development stemmed from a decision in 2005 to switch to next gen by building their own engine, and focusing on visual aspects which consequently took resources away from gameplay, basic...

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'Battlefield 4' to be set in modern era

Battlefield 4 will be set in the modern era, according to EA Digital Illusions CE's general manager Karl Troedsson during a presentation at GDC Europe today.

"We still want to stay in this genre, the modern day as it is. We feel this is a place we can be and continue with the series. Battlefield 4 can live in this space and be very successful," he said, hinting at what fans can expect for the next installment in the series.

However, despite Battlefield 4 being on the horizon, Troedsson stated the studio isn't done with its Bad Company series, adding "that doesn't mean there might not be a...

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'World of Tanks' CEO aims for non-stop crunch for next decade

A successful massively multiplayer game will experience a never-ending development crunch which will last for "five, seven, ten years," according to CEO Victor Kislyi during a presentation at GDC Europe.

Kislyi lamented massively multiplayer studios that believe the work ends once a game is shipped. Following the shipping of a product on its release date, studios must begin hiring employees, not firing them, in order to create new content and updates for the title.

"The boxed [product] mentality kicks in," he said. "[but] when you ship the game, this is where the work starts."


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'Dead Island' gamers spent nearly 6,500 years playing together

Dead Island was a surprising success from a relatively unknown developer, a game that managed to sell more than 4 million copies despite mediocre reviews, a long, troubled development history and a relatively tiny marketing budget.

How did it succeed?

Cooperative gaming.

Specially nearly 6,500 years worth. That's the total time, 56,907,547 hours, that gamers have collectively put into abusing, killing and running from zombies since the game's release, Deep Silver development director Guido Eickmeyer told a gathering at GDC Europe today.

"Dead Island succeeded because it is the most exciting...

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Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs will use lessons learned from the storytelling of Dear Esther

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, the upcoming sequel to PC horror title Amnesia: The Dark Descent, will use a philosophy of storytelling similar to that seen in abstract narrative game Dear Esther, thechineseroom creative director Dan Pinchbeck said today during a lecture at GDC Europe.

The horror title will take lessons learned from Dear Esther's use of inference and suggestion in how it tells its story, said Pinchbeck.

"You can't represent anything in horror games that will be scarier than what is in a player's imagination," he explained.

Citing theorists Roland Barthes and Daniel Dennett,...

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Epic Games buys People Can Fly

Epic Games now owns Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly, a studio they acquired a majority share of in 2007, the company told Polygon today.

The purchase of the Warsaw, Poland-based developer was tied to the departure of Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki, Epic's Mark Rein told Polygon in an interview. It won't impact the game's the studio is working.

"We doubled down on People Can Fly," Rein said. "It was something we always hoped to do."

The decision to buy out the company, which ultimately led to the departure of Chmielarz, Poznanski and Kosieradzk all...

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'Neverwinter' to reward quest creators with achievements, Dungeon Master levels

Cryptic Studios' free-to-play massively multiplayer online game Neverwinter will reward user-generated content creators with unique achievements and a Dungeon Master level, CCO Craig Zinkievich revealed at GDC Europe today.

Folks who create levels and quests using Neverwinter's robust Foundry toolset will be able to complete tasks tied to the creation and promotion of their user-generated content, such as publishing a certain number of quests, or earning the highest review rating for their levels. These achievements will increase the player's Dungeon Master level, which in turn unlock...

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'Battlefield 1942' was a 'textbook example of over-scoping'

Battlefield 1942 was a "textbook example of over-scoping," according to EA Digital Illusions CE's general manager Karl Troedsson during a lecture at GDC Europe.

Describing the process behind developing the 2002 release, Troedsson said the team working on the project "had hubris" when brainstorming the title, as exemplified by the vast number of features, ideas, vehicles, and settings.

"The U-boats were a pretty special experience but it wasn't very good," he said, stating the company currently takes a less far-reaching approach to design in order to maintain quality throughout each feature...

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People Can Fly founders leave Epic Games to 'pursue other opportunities'

Adrian Chmielarz, founder of Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly, and two top artists are no longer with the studio Chmielarz founded in 2002, Epic confirmed to Polygon today.

"Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki have parted ways with People Can Fly and Epic Games in order to pursue other opportunities, which they will announce of their own accord," Epic Games president Mike Capps told Polygon. "Over the past decade, they have been instrumental in building People Can Fly into the talented team that it is today. We wish them well in their future endeavors. People...

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GDC Europe 2012 loads up panels from 'Goldeneye' to 'Assassin's Creed 3'

GDC Europe, the continent's largest professionals-only event for the games industry, will run from August 13th through 15th, 2012 in Cologne, Germany and include sessions covering covering the spectrum from Goldeneye 007 to Assassin's Creed 3.

The conference will feature three summits geared toward the more recent trends in the industry: the Independent Games Summit, the Smartphone and Tablet Games Summit and the Social and Online Games Summit.

Notable panels and presenters include:

  • Martin Hollis, formerly of Rare, who will give a postmortem on the N64's classic FPS, Goldeneye 007.
  • Niklas...

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