Microsoft Keynote at GDC

by: Dan -
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So here is the down and dirty version of the Microsoft Keynote address from the Game Developers Convention (GDC). I am taking these notes from various sources, including Major Nelson's Twitter and Chris Kohler's Live Blog on Wired. I will update later once we get the official press information in.

As with most keynotes, the numbers come near the beginning, so here are what Microsoft was touting: 

  -Halo 3 community uploading over 100k pieces of user generated content per day
  -Every day Halo community alone is uploading 30% more content than all of daily YouTube uploads
  -Xbox 360 community unlocked over 1 Billion achievements
  -More Xbox 360's on the way (To address supply shortage questions)
  -Seven million game sales in 2007 Holiday season
  -More cross-platform games rated 90+ because "you simply can do more on our platform" 

Next, Chris Satchell was brought on stage to discuss the XNA studio, which brought up last years winner (James Silva) of the XNA Dream Build Play contest. James explained his game (Dishwasher - A guy, not a machine that goes crazy and kills everyone) to the crowd (it will also be on the GDC floor) before turning it back over to Satchell who talked about this years Dream, Build Play contest.

Satchell also announced that Xbox Live Community Games are coming to Xbox Live and will be available today. Another XNA games shown by Satchell is called Jellycar, which will be FREE on XBLA by the end of the day along with five other titles. He also details how to submit your games to Xbox Live, which will go through a Peer Review process to check content and. Satchell also stated that there will be over 1,000 user created games on Xbox Live by the end of the year.

Next Satchell announced that XNA games are coming to the Zune, and he is doing a demo of an XNA title a Zune Hmm, multiplayer wireless on the Zune. Nice touch.

Satchell is done but instead of bring back Schappert, they bring Tim Sweeney and Mike Capps from EPIC on stage to show off the next generation of the Unreal Engine on the Xbox 360.

Next up is Tecmo/Team Ninja Executive Producer, Tomonobu Itagaki to show off a new area of Ninja Gaiden II that hasn't been seen before...Obviously I couldn't see it, but MajorNelson's Twitter response was "Demo" Ninja Gaiden II coming in June 2008.

Next up is Peter Molyneux to show off Fable 2 and "two cool new features". One of them is pub games that let you gamble away your money. The twist, the pub games are XBLA games that allow you to transfer your cash back into Fable 2. The XBLA gambling game will release a few weeks before Fable 2 comes out so you can build up your retirement fund for your character. The other new thing? Fable 2 will have dynamic Co-op play. This is drop-in, drop-out co-op that allows you to take the gold and experience with you when you leave....Also, Molyneux mentions to be careful who you invite to your world, as they can kill your family. Peter is done....

Schappert gets back on stage to wrap up, but is interrupted by the worst kept secret of 2008, the Gears of War 2 announcement. Cliffy B apparently jumped through the set with a Lancer to announce Gears coming this November.

Show ends...  EDIT (Dan) Added official Microsoft Press release with additional details after the jump:

Microsoft Provides Thrilling First Look at Xbox 360 Blockbuster Portfolio for 2008, Announces “Gears of War 2” Ships This November

The world’s hottest developers pave the way for a banner year with a blockbuster lineup that includes “Gears of War 2,” “Fable 2,” “Ninja Gaiden II” and a rich mix of indie Xbox LIVE Arcade titles.

SAN FRANCISCO — Feb. 20, 2008 — Today at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2008, Microsoft Corp. provided an exciting glimpse at what promises to be another landmark year for games and online entertainment on the Xbox 360 platform and officially announced the launch of “Gears of War 2,” exclusively for Xbox 360 this November.

Providing a dramatic close to Microsoft’s GDC keynote address, Epic Games Inc.’s lead designer Cliff Bleszinski announced that the epic saga of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad continues exclusively on the Xbox 360 this fall with “Gears of War 2.” This highly anticipated sequel to the 4.5 million-selling blockbuster “Gears of War” delves deeper into humanity’s struggle for survival against the nightmarish Locust Horde, and promises to take high-definition visuals to a whole new level.

In addition, acclaimed developer Peter Molyneux of Lionhead Studios took the stage to showcase exciting new multiplayer features for “Fable 2,” introducing dynamic cooperative play, a first to the franchise. Molyneux also announced that later this year, and before the launch of “Fable 2,” gamers can get a sneak peek at the game’s world when the “Fable 2” pub games debut as a stand-alone download on Xbox LIVE Arcade. When “Fable 2” launches, gamers will have the ability to transfer currency earned in the pub games directly to their character in “Fable 2.” This unique and first-of-its-kind experience, which can be found only on Xbox LIVE Arcade, will give the millions of “Fable” fans and gamers all around the globe the opportunity to jump into the “Fable 2” world with money already in the bank.

Tomonobu Itagaki also revealed new “Ninja Gaiden II” game-sharing features, including Ninja Cinema, which is enabled solely through Xbox LIVE, providing exciting and innovative entertainment experiences for the more than 10 million Xbox LIVE members worldwide by allowing players to record and upload their best ninja moves to Xbox LIVE.

“To our team the original game was just a tease, the appetizer to the ‘Gears of War’ characters and new style of gameplay. We were so amped to get to the next chapter, and dig deeper into the universe of this franchise,” said Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer for Epic Games. “‘Gears of War 2’ is an even bigger, better, and more badass experience than the first game, and we can’t wait to get it in the hands of eager gamers this November.”

This year, the most anticipated games will be found exclusively on Xbox 360, including the next chapters of top franchises such as “Gears of War,” “Fable” and “Ninja Gaiden,” as well as new titles such as “Too Human.”

· “Gears of War 2” (Epic Games). “Gears of War 2” is the sequel to the 4.5 million-selling blockbuster that redefined the third-person tactical action game genre. “Gears of War 2” continues the story of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad in an epic saga of survival, loss and retribution. Developed by Epic Games exclusively for Xbox 360, “Gears of War 2” launches this November.

· “Fable 2” (Lionhead Studios). In addition to the dynamic co-op mode unveiled onstage, Peter Molyneux also announced that Carbonated Games is bringing the “Fable 2” experience to Xbox LIVE Arcade. Before the game’s launch, gamers will be able to get an early taste of the “Fable 2” experience and gain a head start on earning currency for use in “Fable 2” by playing “Fable 2”-themed pub games that will be downloadable via Xbox LIVE Arcade. The currency earned in these Xbox LIVE Arcade titles will enable players to purchase items in “Fable 2” when the game launches later this year.

· “Ninja Gaiden II” (TECMO/Team NINJA). Tomonobu Itagaki debuted several tantalizing new Xbox LIVE features of “Ninja Gaiden II,” including the ability to capture and share videos of a player’s glorious battles via the Ninja Cinema feature and upload them to Xbox LIVE. “Ninja Gaiden II” launches worldwide this June.

· “Too Human” (Silicon Knights). Microsoft also showcased the epic action game from renowned Canadian developer Silicon Knights, “Too Human,” at a media event before today’s keynote address. In “Too Human,” players are treated to a nonstop barrage of action powered by the seamless integration of melee and firearms combat, plus deep role-playing elements fueled by breathtaking visuals enabled by the power of Xbox 360.

With online multiplayer gameplay, downloadable content and ways to stay in contact with a global community, these forthcoming blockbusters harness the power of Xbox LIVE to create truly innovative and exciting entertainment experiences. Each game also comes packed with Achievements, so Xbox LIVE members can help add to the more than 1 billion Achievements already unlocked on the service to date. And, as with the “Fable 2” pub games, downloadable content in Xbox LIVE Marketplace allows gamers the opportunity to customize and enhance their gameplay experiences. Since the service launched, Microsoft has seen more than $250 million in digital revenue from Xbox LIVE Marketplace through the purchase of more than 20 billion Microsoft Points.

Xbox LIVE members have been using a large portion of those Microsoft Points in Xbox LIVE Arcade, which is the premier destination for digitally distributed, high-definition original and classic games. With over 116 games to choose from on Xbox LIVE Arcade, everyone’s invited to get instantly immersed in the fun. Xbox LIVE Arcade is also home to the world’s most innovative independent developers, with more than 25 independent studios serving as the creative fuel behind the original games that represent more than a quarter of the Xbox LIVE Arcade library. The following titles represent a sample of games launching on Xbox LIVE Arcade in the near future from the world’s leading independent developers:

· “Braid” (Number None Inc.). Developed by Independent Games Festival Winner and experimental game designer Jonathan Blow, “Braid” is a platform experience that bends all the rules with the manipulation of time. “Braid” will launch this spring.

· “Castle Crashers” (The Behemoth). “Castle Crashers” is the second title currently in development by award-winning independent developer The Behemoth, creator of “Alien Hominid HD.” The role-playing game (RPG) adventure will let up to four players hack, slash and smash their way together through a visually stunning hand-drawn landscape. “Castle Crashes” launches this summer.

· “Defense Grid: The Awakening” (Hidden Path Entertainment LLC). “Defense Grid: The Awakening” is the definitive tower defense game experience designed specifically for Xbox LIVE Arcade and launches this summer.

· “Go! Go! Break Steady” (Little Boy Games). An Xbox LIVE Arcade exclusive, “Go! Go! Break Steady” is the debut title from independent developer Little Boy Games. The combination music and puzzle game combines break dancing with novel gameplay and launches this summer.

· “Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness” (Hothead Games). The first video game collaboration between Penny Arcade creators Mike “Gabe” Krahulik and Jerry “Tycho” Holkins and legendary game designer Ron Gilbert, “Penny Arcade Adventures” is an RPG-adventure game set in a highly stylized 1920s universe filled with bizarre characters, outrageous combat and adult humor. The first episode of the game launches this summer.

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