GDC 2012 Information/Rumour Roundup

March 2, 2012

The Game Developers Conference has become somewhat of an oddball, the annual event having arguably strayed away from it’s roots as a home for developers to share technical and design insight, and rant and rave amongst themselves, to become a festival of a-typical publisher big-noting and huge public game reveals. Oh, developers still spend plenty of time organising private keynotes and demonstrations to show off their latest technology and share tricks of the trades, but more than ever before publishers see GDC as yet another stage to boast about their biggest games and, just like E3, surprise gamers with unexpected announcements and first looks at upcoming games.

This year’s GDC, scheduled to start on 5 March in Europe (next week!), looks to follow suit with the above, and take it even further, as many big publishers and developers are gearing up to hold press events, reveal new games, and blow the lid off some super secret industry rumours we’ve all been anticipating.

Because we at Rocket Chainsaw love and care for our readers, we’ve compiled a tasty list with a few details on the most tantalising confirmations and hottest rumours surrounding GDC 2012. Read on, get excited, get giddy, and look forward to big stuff in the week to come.

You’re out of your mind if you haven’t heard of Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, arguably the most successful middle ware engine of all time, powering more games from this generation than you can count. At last year’s GDC, Epic showed off a heavily modified build of the engine on modern computing hardware with their Samaritan graphics demo, and it blew people away. This year they’re cranking their technology to 11 and revealing, for the first time ever the engine’s successor; Unreal Engine 4. Engine technology demos are an exciting glimpse into the near future of gaming, and we have no doubts that Unreal Engine 4 will leave jaws on the floor. Unfortunately for us sitting at home, the demo will be shown privately and under NDA, as Epic likely wait until E3 2012 for a formal reveal. But the industry being as it is, don’t be surprised to see some off-screen camera footage leak well before.

Know the name David Cage? No? How about Heavy Rain? The narrative heavy chose-your-own-adventure game released in 2010 may have divided audiences, but certainly caused quite a stir, emphasising realistic character animations and emotions while attempting to redefine what it means to create an interactive film. Developer Quantic Dream has been hush hush for too long now, but GDC 2012 promises a technology demo from the studio presented by director David Cage. Though this does not necessarily mean Quantic Dream’s new game will be shown, the demo will certainly show insight into the kind of technology powering their next big game. One to watch for narrative fans.

In the running to be the biggest event of the show, EA will be hosting a two hour live stream of their ‘Game Changers’ conference. What makes this important is that this particular conference is usually reserved for E3, and if last year is anything to go by, will be drenched in video games. New titles are expected, but EA has let slip a few games that will be revealed publicly for the first time. Leading the charge is Medal of Honor: Warfighter, sequel to the 2010 reboot, and powered by DICE’s Frostbite 2.0 engine. Maxis has confirmed they’ll be making an appearance to show off the recently announced SimCity V, and potentially the long rumoured SimCity Facebook as well. Then there’s the usual sports stuff, which will have at least one major showing. EA’s Game Changer is an event to look forward to, especially when you take into account the below…

Above we mentioned only two games guaranteed to show. It takes a lot more than that to fill two hours worth of video feed, and we can guaranty there will be some long awaited announcements. EA’s studios have been hard at work on numerous sequels and new IPs, but there’s a few that stand out above the rest. Firstly, as Mass Effect 3 launches, BioWare will be well and truly ready to reveal Dragon Age 3, and given the team recently met to talk about Dragon Age 2 reviews we wouldn’t be surprised to see a CGI teaser for the third game. Speaking of three’s, there’s also Isaac’s next haunted outing; Dead Space 3. It exists, but where is it? Rumour has it that Dead Space 3 is powered by DICE’s Frostbite 2.0 engine, and we cant think of a better place to announce that than GDC. On the racing side of things, the ever popular Need for Speed franchise is due for a new release, and this time we expect the game to be from Criterion. Lastly, there’s the known knowns; games that exist, but we know little about. These include Command & Conquer: Generals 2, Overstrike from Insomniac Games, Crysis 3 from Crytek, and the big game from Respawn Entertainment, the studio composed of ex-Infinity War Call of Duty veterans. The possibilities for big games are unlimited.

A short while ago, the good folk at Sony had their annual Destination Playstation event. That means a lot of journalists got to see some new games and hear about what the company has in store for the future. And none of it is officially public. In the industry, it’s damn near impossible to keep a lid on everything, and we already know a couple of things to come out of the event. LittleBigPlanet Kart is the confirmed one. Photos from the event confirmed the title to exist, though the company is yet to give an official announcement. Then there’s God of War IV, a hot rumour that in all probability is very much true. Kratos is well overdue for a new outing, and GDC 2012 may be the time to let his anger shine. Lastly, we have the never ending rumours of a Sony themed Super Smash Bros. of sorts dubbed Title Fight. Was it at Destination PlayStation? We don’t know, but we do expect the game to be revealed either at E3 2012, and if we’re lucky a little earlier at GDC. Either way, something Sony is bound to come out of this event. Maybe those Syphon Filter 4 rumours will finally come to fruition…

Seems like every man and his dog is putting on some show. Or at least was. Just like Sony with Destination PlayStation, Microsoft too recently held an event showing off who-knows-what to wh0-knows-who. At the moment it’s all speculative, but there’s one thing we do know; the embargo ends right as GDC 2012 starts. An unlikely coincidence. If recent magazine promises are anything to go by, we’ll be hearing more about Halo 4, which should excite sci-fi shooter nerds, as well as a mysterious reboot/sequel. Microsoft’s resident fantasy studio Lionhead has a countdown conveniently timed to GDC, so we’ll hear something from them. Then there’s rumours of something called Forza Universe overdue for an announcement. The biggest rumours circulating Microsoft are not about the Xbox 360 though, they’re all about their next home console codenamed Durango. A leaky Crytek employee accidentally spilled the beans on a Durango event that took place just recently. Could we be seeing some hints as to what Microsoft has in store for next generation? It wouldn’t be a first, and maybe there’s more to Unreal Engine 4 than we expect.

Of all of the above there’s only so much we’re sure of, and plenty more we’re not. We know we’ll see Epic’s new engine (assuming footage leaks). We know EA’s event will deliver on brand new games. But what, exactly will those new games be? What does Microsoft have in store when that embargo drops? Will we finally hear about Destination PlayStation’s goodies, despite already knowing what many of them are? And the biggest question; what hasn’t been rumoured, leaked or speculated, that will soon be announced and surprise us all?

Stick with Rocket Chainsaw to find out.