"If you want to know how much faster you can make a game with someone else's engine, ask Silicon Knights," Acton said, referring to the developer of the forthcoming Too Human, currently embroiled in a legal dispute with Epic Games, the makers of the Unreal engine.
Riccitiello opened with a few notes on how the economies of scale are making industry consolidation not only an attractive option for many game studios, but for some, the only option. But he added consolidation can often lead to creative failure and explained why: "Creative teams can be thought of as flowers in a hothouse. Raise or lower the temperature a few degrees and they die."
Thursday morning began with a group session of speakers versed in the creative process: Team Blizzard. Team Blizzard consisted of Mike Mohaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard (who is to be inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame at tonight’s award ceremony), Frank Pearce, Executive VP of Product Development and co-founder of Blizzard and Rob Pardo, Senior VP of Game Design.
BioShock was the big winner, sweeping the music-based awards and bringing home five in all. Portal/The Orange Box tied with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for second place, each bringing in four awards, although Call of Duty 4 won the evening's highest honor: Best Overall Game.
According to Manley, 80 percent of the companies seeking to "acquire" start-ups fall into the first of what he calls the four categories of such suitors, those who aim to "look up your skirt, learn as much as they can about what you do, and then go and try to do as much as they can without you."
"I remember a couple of weeks ago people thought the Patriots would win the Super Bowl," said Kim, pulling a punt fake and dodging the question entirely. "So I think we should concentrate a little less on pronouncements years in advance. Nobody at Microsoft thinks the war is over."
"I am a gamer," Verbninski told the packed house, "but I am primarily a filmmaker and a storyteller. … We are influencing each other and it is exciting and dangerous and a bit mad. … I would argue that this moment right now - with the doors wide open - this is the time for madness."
I shared a cab from McCarran with Nokia's Ace producer, Scott Foe, and the surprisingly affable Cliffy B. Cliffy and I chatted it up at the airport about the trials of growing older (we're both in our 30s), the value of working with people you can trust (Cliffy has nothing but good things to say about his team at Epic) and the pitfalls of designing games set in jungles.
This year's DICE promises to be the most eventful yet, with more than 50 games competing for 24 awards, including Overall Game of the Year. The goal, according to AIAS president Joseph Olin, is to recognize outstanding achievement in the industry, single out those games that represent a step forward for interactive entertainment "and bring that knowledge to the public."