Industry veteran Mark DeLoura has been named "Developer Advocate" for games at Google, as the search engine company continues its expansion into game-related areas. He starts the new position today.This is the one of the first times in recent years that Google has hired someone into a position that focuses specifically on game development and game developers.It highlights the growing importance of the company's current gaming-related initiatives such as Google Android, Google's open source 3D API called O3D API, Chrome and Chrome OS.In 2008, Google also made news by launching the Lively virtual world, although the company shut it down later that year. The company also owns the 3D modeling tool SketchUp."I personally feel that Google hiring someone specifically to focus on games is a signal from the company that they recognize the growing importance of games as a medium," said DeLoura in a statement to Gamasutra. "
Now how do we make it easier for developers to express themselves and share the experiences they create?" The position of developer advocate for games at Google is "both inward- and outward-facing," he added.DeLoura is well-known within the video game industry. For the past three years, DeLoura has been performing CTO-level game technology consulting for a variety of companies, and has been writing about game engines and middleware. He's also on the board of the International Game Developers Association and the OneBigGame charity, and served as a judge for the Independent Games Festival and the recently-announced White House-backed Apps for Healthy Kids Competition.Prior to his time as a consultant, he was VP of technology at publisher GreenScreen Interactive, technical director at Ubisoft San Francisco and manager of developer relations at Sony Computer Entertainment America. He was also formerly editor-in-chief for Gamasutra sibling publication Game Developer magazine and worked as lead engineer at Nintendo of America."
Killzone 3 is one of the bigger games coming from the Sony camp for E3, with the PlayStation 3 exclusive shooter trailing stereoscopic 3D visuals and the promise of bigger, badder everything. Gamasutra got to talk with Hermen Hulst, managing director of Dutch franchise creators Guerrilla Games ahead of the show, and put him on the spot regarding familiar FPS tropes (why is melee more powerful than guns?), 3D (do you design around it?), and regenerating health.The newest Killzone [YouTube teaser trailer] promises a deeper story, more environments, and more freedom of gameplay, but how do you introduce this to new players, when you start right where the last left off? Hulst has some of the answers, mixed with just a handful of "wait and see."One thing that Ive noticed in FPS games in general is that the melee is more powerful than shooting -- you can shoot a guy for 30 seconds before he dies, but you hit him once with a rifle butt and hes done.
Do you ever think about justifying this in the game world?Hermen Hulst: Thats something that were balancing continuously. As soon as theres a new system like this brutal melee system that comes in, and theres new variances within that, were pulling that through play testing straight away. You gotta balance that immediately. If you have a knife kill that somebody could finish the entire game with, thats not good, right? So you want to go back and make sure that youve got some encounters that really require you to either take your pistol or rifle out to finish him. Of course, here with this gunplay that weve got requiring you to hop through from iceberg to iceberg, youre gonna be shooting from the air, so thats already an example of where you cant just use a brutal melee or close combat.How early do you start playtesting for things like this?HH: We start it almost straight away. As soon as we got a level that is some sort of functional indication of what its gonna play like, we get guys from the team, we get guys from the street, through Sony, in London and we also do it here stateside. Playtesting is a huge thing for us, so we do it all the time.It seems like a lot of the more successful FPS developers are advocating aggressive play testing. Obviously Valve does it from first prototype stage.HH: I think, frankly, in Killzone 2, it was kinda the first game where we did a lot of playtesting, though we started a little bit too late, I think. So you had some pretty severe difficulty spikes in that game still.
Massively multiplayer game developer Sony Online Entertainment has laid off 35 employees, slightly more than 4 percent of its total full-time workforce, to "better align the company's resources" and "improve operational efficiency."SOE is responsible for numerous live and upcoming MMOs, including the EverQuest series, DC Universe Online, Free Realms, and The Agency. In a statement released to the press today, the company said the layoffs will "better position SOE to deliver against its emphasis on developing games for a wider, more diverse audience and remaining a worldwide leader in online gaming."This isn't the first round of job cuts to be publicly reported in the game industry in the last week.
So far, Ready at Dawn Studios (God of War: Ghost of Sparta) laid off 13, Firaxis (Civilization V) laid off 20, and Rockstar San Diego (Red Dead Redemption) laid off an unspecified number of workers.Sony Online is headquartered in San Diego (Free Realms), with subsidiary development studios in Austin (DC Universe Online), Denver (Legends of Norrath), Seattle (The Agency), and Tucson (PoxNora). The company gave no indication of which studios or departments were hit by the layoffs.The company officially explained its layoffs with the following full statement: "In a move to better align the company's resources against areas of growth that meet consumer demand in today's online market as well as improve operational efficiency, Sony Online Entertainment has eliminated just over 4% of its full-time workforce, equaling 35 people. The changes will better position SOE to deliver against its emphasis on developing games for a wider, more diverse audience and remaining a worldwide leader in online gaming.".
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