Feeling Some Euphoria
The thing that most impressed me as I walked back to my hotel (I always like to be within walking distance of the convention to avoid LA's nasty traffic) was the Euphoria technology that LucasArts was demonstrating in their booth. In essence, the licensed technology allows game makers to create artificial intelligence that behaves like real human beings.
Anyone who's ever played through a game, including next-gen titles like Call of Duty 2, knows that when you die, you start over and know exactly where the Germans are and how they'll behave. Euphoria creates a different game experience every time you play a game. This means that single-player games will have infinite replay value, because the AI-controlled behavior will be different every time. No two games will be alike.
Beginning next year, all of LucasArts' next-generation games will employ this technology. I saw Indiana Jones and the Quest use this technology and it was cool to see the bad guys fighting Indy (who looks like Harrison Ford) atop a moving cable car in San Francisco react differently each time they were punched or thrown from the roof.
I also got a closed-door demo of a next-gen Star Wars game that's in development. In addition to using Euphoria, this game also employs digital molecular matter. In a nutshell, this technology allows programmers to create objects that behave as they would in real life, which means when R2-D2 is thrown through a wooden board (yes, they tortured the droid during this demo), it breaks apart differently each time. And when R2 was tossed against a JarJar Binks frozen in carbonite (LucasArts employees like to play with George's creations), it dents and deforms appropriately. While next gen graphics are great -- and I saw a lot of impressive visuals today (including EA's Army of Two), I think Euphoria is the type of advancement that will truly push gaming in new directions.
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