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Microsoft @ GDC 2008
Posted on Thursday, February 21 2008 @ 05:20:57 PST

Keynote. Highlights. Info!

Host: John Schappert. Corporate Vice President of LIVE at Microsoft.

Venue: Large auditorium. Espanade Ballroom. Ginormous screens with XBOX 360 logos all over them. And some abstract display with circle patterns. All stages need geometric artwork. That’s how they roll.

Schappert says he’s stepping into the limelight for the first time as a Microsoft representative. Welcome, n00b.

He starts sharing his history (loves Desert Strike for SNES and Madden '02 for Genesis) but really wants to say, "I'm a gamer, too! See, we've got common ground! Don’t boo me!"

According to Jupiter Research, the game industry has made $18 billion this year in revenue in just the United States. Not only has it already surpassed box office sales at the movies, but now the industry has exceeded even the music industry on a global scale. The crowd applauds while a cocker spaniel strokes a 360 controller against a carpet.

Ever since he was a child, Schappert explains, he had an inspiring poster with the words "We See Farther". Except the jumbo-tron behind him displaying the poster says, "We See Further”. At this point, I’m learning too much about John.

$250 million was spent on Xbox Live points alone. No statistics on how many of those points were spent while drunk.

Microsoft wants to give more exposure to amateur designers, announcing an initiative for a democratization of development tools (which they have done with the XNA development kit) and a democratization of game distribution. It’s all very “you scratch my back, I scratch your back, you give me money, I free you from the Nazis”.

Then a dude with a British accent and wearing a Big & Tall suit comes out, introduced as the guy who can benchpress 400 lbs. I forget his name, but he can benchpress 400 lbs.

Declaring the industry’s need to tap into the potential of new design talent (the “talent pipe”, if you will), Microsoft’s weightlifter reveals the arrival of Xbox Live Community Games. With it, creators like James Silva, the winner of the "Dream Build Play" contest, can showcase their awesome creations - in this case, the robot-slicing-samurai hack-‘n-slash Dishwasher. Along with other titles such as Jelly Car, Rocketball, Culture, and Proximity HD, it will help launch the new section in our Xbox 360 dashboard. In fact, some of them should be available… now.

Oh, and you can also play transfer some of the games soon to arrive on Xbox Live Community Games to your Zune.... … … … excitement?

Then bang! Legendary game creator for the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series, Tomonobu Itagaki, walks onto the stage like the rock star that he is. He quickly introduces the first level of Ninja Gaiden II, which is slated for June 3. His translator takes the controller and guides… “Please reconnect the controller”… ugh… the crowd waits… waits… and guides Ryu to the temple of sacrifice. Battling upon a grey, barren wasteland with deep pits, he flips, evades, changes weapons and ninjitsu spells, and skillfully carves up fleshy beasts with robotic arms into sirloin. Mmm... ninja-sliced beaststeak... my favorite kind. 

Save points now have… “Please reconnect the controller”… Damn it!… Microsoft, use new batteries!... You can afford them!… Itagaki taps his foot… wait… wait… now have a feature that allows players to record their gameplay footage to their hard drive and upload them to leaderboards and the like. That way, players can see how the best players in the world get through the game, and if the sequel is anything like the first, you’ll probably need to.

Mr. Peter Moly-overhyped-Fable-neux then waltzes onto the stage with TWO NEW FEATURES FOR FABLE 2!!! First, a mini-game - some combination of roulette and craps. His favorite number is 17. He rolls three dice. They add up to 17. No kiddin’… But, ah, that’s not the surprise. The mini-game will be out on Xbox Live Arcade before Fable 2 is released. Que? That’s right, players can become millionaires before they even press start.

Second, dynamic co-op. Molyneux plays a female character. Gasps through the audience. (I’m not really surprised?) She’s been married for five years. Had a baby boy. (No, there isn’t a labor mini-game.) Hasn’t been home for six months.

Partner on stage is a bald sword-slinging warrior. Both kill some goblin-like creatures for experience and gold. They visit the woman’s home. Son is surprised to see her. Husband is surprised as well but doesn’t want to talk to her. Bald warrior shoots husband in the head. He laughs. He dances. He flexes his biceps. Molyneux wants to “tug at our heartstrings”, but our evil laughs are tugging instead.

Then the doorway to center stage turns neon red, a heavy mist fills the air, and a silhouette of a man cranking a chainsaw-gun into the air appears. The angry sound of the motor screeches across the auditorium, pwning everyone’s eardrums. Cliffy B of Epic Games, lead developer for Gears of War, emerges with a smile. Apparently, some rumors are true… he’s cool and compensating.

Oh yeah, trailer for Gears of War 2. Trailer is nothing special. Just a lot of hyper-masculine silhouettes on a red background. Something more important? November 2008. Release date. I jots that downs.

Finally, Cliffy B heads back into the manly mist. Probably to kill some Locusts.

The end.
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