Wii U, Microsoft Surface, and Unity 4 (now w/ Linux!)
by Sebastian Haley, Creative Director
First, an important announcement: Stephanie Carmichael has joined the Downward Viral team as community manager. I’ve worked with Stephanie at a few different sites throughout the past several years and I could not have chosen a more capable person to help us ensure we get to make Z. by reaching our funding goal.
It turns out managing a Kickstarter while also developing a game is a lot of work, so she’s going to help reach out to as many people as she can, while I’ll lurk here on the Kickstarter page and Z. Facebook so that I can always be available to speak directly with the backers. Many of you have already commented or messaged us about Z., and I try to reply to each and every one of those as they come in. :)
I was going to post a starter deck article, but I’d like to break up game design updates every once in a while with something fresh (or really boring, if you don't care about SDKs and the like). So, today was a pretty tech-heavy day. Unity announced Unity Engine 4, I went to a private demo of the upcoming Wii U, and Microsoft unveiled their new Surface tablet at their not-so-top secret event in Los Angeles.
The Wii U’s admittedly a slick piece of technology. I would almost use the word “surprisingly”. It will live and die on the third party support it gets, of course, but there’s a lot of promise from a technological standpoint, and the step up in visuals is a sizable improvement over the Wii. We’ll see how it fares against the next generation of Xbox and PlayStations, though.
ZombieU and Pikmin 3 are the definite launch highlights right now, at least for a non-casual gamer like myself. The Nintendo demo girl told me I was the only person she had seen who made it through the entire ZombieU demo without dying. I thought I was totally hot shit after that, and then I accidentally threw all my Pikmin into a lake. -_-
iOS and PC (Facebook and Steam, specifically) are the target platforms for Z., but I see lots of potential in the tablets of tomorrow, not only for our game, but in digitizing tabletop gaming in general. I was imagining all the different ways Z. or popular board and card games could be brought over and evolved, and it’s kind of exciting to think that’s where things are going, eventually. Unfortunately, there’s still the massive issue of requiring a publisher, console certification woes, and the big three’s opposition to free-to-play gaming experiences, so “eventually” is probably later rather than sooner. And like comics, digital will never replace the “real deal” completely, so people can pick and choose which they prefer.
When it comes to Surface, I was always a fan of the massive tabletop touchscreen (originally known as Microsoft Surface, now known as “PixelSense”). They first showed them off in May of 2007 and began shipping to consumers the next year, albeit for a hefty price tag. They had some on display in the Innoventions exhibit at Disneyland, and I would just sit there imagining playing an RTS or CCG with a giant flat touchscreen. It could be like the arcades where you put your player card in and it loads your personal profile with all of your Tekken customizations or mods in a tuner racing game. You could even have it where everyone sees something different in the same way you can with Sony’s “dual-view” monitors.
So to see it get shrunk down to typical tablet size... I was kind of disappointed. That’s not the product or experience I had been waiting for to finally go mainstream. I want something new. More specifically, something unique. Integrating SmartGlass into Surface tablets and Xboxes will be an interesting combination, but it doesn’t seem like the OG (big) Surface will be playing a major role in gaming anytime soon.
Last but not least, the excellent Unity Engine (which Z. will very likely utilize -- we’re currently prototyping in both Unity and Corona) announced their next big release. Unity 4 brings a number of major and minor advancements, but the most important is undoubtedly support for Linux. This means a Linux version of Z. (one of our stretch goals) is not such a stretch anymore. It will happen.
Okay, I’m off for now. Gotta secure a couple big guest card announcements for later this week. Stay tuned!
P.S. If anyone owns Arma 2 (the game used to fake actual war footage in a documentary), you might want to check out the DayZ mod: