E3-show-floor-sony

This year’s E3 showed off a myriad of new technology intended to enhance our gaming experiences. The impending release of two powerful next generation gaming consoles this holiday season means games are going to become more advanced.

These advancements will not only improve the quality of the games’ looks onscreen, but also allow them to interact with the players unlike ever before. From motion controls to second-screen gaming, E3 offered a glimpse of the bright, innovative future to come in gaming.

Of all the technology on display, we’ve highlighted the five trends we expect to change gaming in the next few years or so. See something we missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

1. Motion Controls Get Smarter

While Nintendo’s Wii pioneered motion controls for gaming and Microsoft’s Kinect brought a whole body sensor to the Xbox 360, the current offerings on the market are far from perfect. Motion controls are often gimmicky or added in unnecessarily. Additionally, Kinect’s camera often requires exaggerated movements to follow the player’s action.

Microsoft’s new Kinect for the Xbox One is much more precise than the demos shown at E3. Microsoft’s tech demo showed how it could detect more precise movements. In order to raise your shields and deflect bullets during a first-person shooter style match, you would simply tilt the controller upward. To activate your night vision goggles, you would tap the side of your head, and simply tilt your body left or right to literally lean around corners.

“We tried to make the motions more natural to what a gamer would do,” Yusef Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of marketing and strategy for Interactive Entertainment Business branch, told Mashable.

This may include any natural moves by intense gamers. For example, in a racing game, a player might lean his body into the turns, which this upgraded Kinect would detect.

Harmonix, a company adept at working with the Kinect for its Dance Central games, showed how motion controls could operate in a more abstract way during the demonstration of its upcoming title Fantasia: Music Evolved. In the game, players conduct music with motions, enhancing the world around them. It’s a unique game, and we haven’t seen a control scheme quite like it before.

2. The Evolved Second Screen

At this year’s E3, we saw more second-screen integration from not only console makers, but also from game publishers.

Microsoft revealed much more information on the interaction between tablets running SmartGlass and Xbox One games. In Roman action-adventure game Ryse, for example, players can use tablets to watch friends’ concurrent progress through different levels, along with videos of their conquests. In Xbox One’s Project Spark, a game-creation game, players can use tablets in concert with the controller to create your game world.

Publisher Ubisoft released two titles with their own apps designed for tablets, both which added value for players. In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, an Android and iOS app functions like a GPS device, allowing players to use it as a map in-game for their quests. When the game isn’t running, the app allows players to send their fleet to quests while they’re not playing.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a multiplayer, third-person action game that challenges players to control a pandemic in New York. The drop-in/drop-out co-op allows for players to quickly join one another’s games, and also allows for players to join via tablet. That tablet player operates a drone in the game, which can aid its team by marking enemies for takedown, healing allies and surveying the area well. It’s impressive because the player on the tablet is actually taking part in a real-time game session.

Of course, the Wii U tried to bring this idea to fruition last year with its touchscreen GamePad controller. While third-party games take full advantage of the screen’s ability to convey extra information to the player, the screen hasn’t been very widely adopted. Some of Nintendo’s newer first-party titles use the feature frequently, such as in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Wii U remake, which uses the GamePad screen to swap items rather than forcing the user to pause the game to access a menu.

3. Virtual Reality

Developers have only been working on Oculus Rift for a few months, but already the virtual reality headset shows promise in creativity. Virtual reality often feeks like a gaming pipe dream hallmarked by goofy accessories and poorly functioning technology — but that’s about to change.

Oculus Rift creator Palmer Lucky said his company has come a long way since last year’s E3, when the headset was only being shown off by former id Software co-founder John Carmack. With 10,000 developer kits in the wild (and more shipping), creators from all backgrounds have been working on virtual reality games, and now, Oculus Rift is working with some of the most commonly used engines such as Unreal 4 and Unity.

We played five or six Oculus Rift games at E3. The biggest of note was EVR, created by CCP Games, the makers of EVE Online. This space fighting game was only a tech demo, according to CCP developers, but it still demonstrated the awesome, immersive power of virtual reality.

Other indie titles featuring the Oculus Rift were playable at the IndieCade booth, and each provided a different take on the benefits of virtual reality. Soundself, a game created by Robin Arnott, focused on meditative chanting; the player’s tonal hums made the dizzying spirals in front of his eyes spin and pulse along with the sounds he made.

Oculus Rift continues to expand. The company announced Monday that it received $16 million in venture funding to continue hardware development, and OculusVR showed off its new HD Rift at E3 — a first for the platform.

4. Game DVR and Streaming

It’s hard to ignore the growing trend of gaming as a spectator sport, with the rise of Major League Gaming and Twitch as places for fans to watch live streams of games.

Both Sony and Microsoft have recognized that gamers want to share their content, so they integrated methods in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to simplify a previously complicated process. Both consoles feature the ability to broadcast gameplay live with minimal work; the Xbox One streams to Twitch, while the PS4 sends live video to Ustream. Both consoles also capture gameplay continuously via game DVR, and both allow players to edit and share key moments with friends.

5. Cloud Computing

Console makers have turned to cloud computing as a way to extend the life of gaming consoles and ensure players get more out of the hardware in their living rooms. Instead of the console acting as the entire workhorse for processing, some will be handled by remote servers.

This isn’t a new idea to gaming. The now-defunct OnLive started a few years ago on the premise that players could harness server power to play a wide variety of games that weren’t on their home computers — and it wasn’t the only company working on that idea. In 2010, Sony purchased streaming company GaiKai, and its technology is now helping power the PlayStation 4’s cloud services.

Sony detailed streaming in its February press conference, sharing that it would be used to eventually bring older PlayStation games to the next-generation console (which are currently incompatible due to radical architecture changes from previous generations). Sony also plans to use cloud computing to allow PlayStation 4 games to stream on the handheld PlayStation Vita.

In an Xbox One demo, Microsoft software engineers harnessed the console’s internal processor to render 40,000 of the asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, displaying their movement in real time. Then, they showed that with help from Microsoft’s 300,000 servers, the Xbox One could render 330,000 asteroids in that same belt. The engineer explained that this technology could make games look better, increase the map size and decrease load times.

These technologies are the biggest examples of trends found at this year’s E3, but they aren’t the only ones. Gaming is evolving rapidly with the launch of new consoles, new players getting involved in the field and the rise of mobile gaming. I’m sure we’ll see great things in the future, even as soon as next year’s conference.

Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/19/gaming-tech-trends/

A few signs of hope from the lackluster trade show.

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FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP / Getty Images

In many ways, E3 is an annual reminder of the game industry’s worst impulses. Giant, sometimes monolithic, and often short-sighted corporations bombard the gaming public with assembly-line products saturated for no good reason with graphic violence and objectified and powerless women. This year was no exception. The big press conferences held over past two days were simultaneously unendurably loud and unendurably dull, a grim dump of guns (guns), germs (zombies), and steel (cars), mostly bereft of new ideas, plopping on impact like so much lazy profit motive.

And yet. Amid the litany of indistinguishable turds shone four potentially great new games, and one essential remake. These five titles, all of which should be released in the next two years, represent the flame of creativity, burning wondrously, if faintly, even at the dark center of the craven and juvenile spectacle in Los Angeles. These five titles are vastly different, but each one says: Take heart.

1. No Man’s Sky, a huge game from a tiny company.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=MZO40WBNA60.

Hello Games is a studio of four located in Guildford, a small city in England — a typically modest profile for an indie game company. Yet the electrifying first two trailers the company’s made for its new game, No Man’s Sky, have engendered hype more befitting of a game built by a team of hundreds. You really just need to watch the one above to understand why.

What we’ve seen of No Man’s Sky seems to smartly synthesize so many of the good ideas and mechanics that indie games have popularized over the past five years, things like procedural generation, a Day-Glo color palette, and permanent death. But it also refurbishes a beloved though out-of-favor genre — the first-person space combat game — and it’s this twist that I believe gives the game the chance to be truly unique.

Hello Games has made some big promises about this game that have played like catnip to a gaming public starving for new ideas. Frankly, if this one is a small fraction as compelling as its trailers, it will be one of the best and most compelling games to come along in quite a long time.

2. Grim Fandango, resurrected.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JNhE7zxJymE.

The praises of Grim Fandango have been sung so long and at such a pitch that I have to confess my voice is growing sore. Hoarsely, then: Tim Schaefer’s 1998 adventure game about a down-on-his-luck travel agent in the Mexican land of the dead is the pinnacle of the (resurgent) genre. It’s a landmark game that set standards in storytelling, humor, art, puzzle design, and music, and in many ways is still unsurpassed. I have a tattoo of Manny Calavera, the game’s main character, on my arm.

Now, after years languishing basically out of print (though never out of mind), Grim Fandango will be resurrected and remastered for the PS4 and the Vita. Among other things, this means that a new generation of humans will be exposed to one of the great works of popular narrative art of the past 20 years, and that is cause for a fiesta.

3. Inside, the half decade in the making follow-up to Limbo.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=op4G1–kb-g.

It’s hard to believe Limbo, the achingly sad and poetic platformer from the Danish studio Playdead, is four years old. Limbo, along with Braid, was one of the first indie games to be fully embraced by the mainstream of gamers, and to signal the shift toward smaller, cheaper, more experimental, and more personal games.

In the next year, the creators behind that first generation of indie treasures will finally give us their second acts: Jonathan Blow, who made Braid, is readying the first person puzzle game The Witness for a fall release, and yesterday Microsoft showed off Inside, Playdead’s forthcoming second game. Alongside the creaky Xboxian parade of guns and cars, the trailer for Inside was a cool reminder of the power of suggestion. What we saw: expertly minimal art and sound design, a sprightly boy running amid a crowd of bloated shamblers (and isn’t that fitting?), a far-off companion. What we imagined: everything, anything.

4. Bloodborne, the next-gen Dark Souls.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=5mVW6tu0-eU.

Here’s what I wrote about Dark Souls 2, the most recent game by the Japanese developer From Software, when it debuted earlier this year:

Ask anyone who has played through and beaten one of the Souls games what it felt like to play another video game in the weeks afterward. They feel minor, silly, unserious — a stupid hobby … At best, they feel like amuse-bouche.

Months later, I’m even more convinced that Dark Souls 2 is the game of the year to date. So that’s what makes it so surprising that there is actually speculation that the game was developed by From Software’s B-team, or at least a team missing major names from the original game.

One such name: Hidetaka Miyazaki, who directed the first two Souls games, and returns as the director for Bloodborne, the first next-generation game by From. The trailer Sony showed yesterday was largely a cut scene, but it has all the doomy atmospherics we expect from these accomplished sadists.

Bloodborne is exclusive to PS4, and it comes out next year.

5. And an open-world, 3D Zelda for Wii U.

Here Are The Only Five Things You Need To Know From This Year's E3

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Nintendo showed very little of the new game in their flagship series. What they did show, though, was enough to set fans of the company’s games, and games in general, on fire. In 1997, Ocarina of Time defined what it meant to create a massive and lifelike three-dimensional video game world, but in the nearly two decades since, Nintendo, partially because of hardware limitations, has been content to iterate and polish that formula, which by modern standards sets strict limits on where the player can go and what the player can do.

With this new game, Nintendo is finally giving their best series the modern treatment—a full, and fully-explorable open world in the style of Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, even Dark Souls. That alone makes it the most ambitious game the House of Mario has built in years.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/here-are-the-only-five-things-you-need-to-know-from-this-yea