Five moments that took us by surprise at GDC

Battlefield 4 Screenshot - GDC 2013

The Game Developers Conference is officially wrapped up for another year. It was another swell time in San Francisco, filled with up-and-coming students trying to achieve their dream in game design, and panels where designers and producers got a chance to talk about their future projects.

We saw a lot of awesome stuff while we were at the event -- some of which we'll recap in full previews here over the next few weeks -- but there were also a few moments that managed to catch us off guard. So here now are five moments from this year's GDC that threw us for a loop -- mostly for the better, though there's still that millisecond where we were wondering just what the heck happened.

Michael Winslow and Wizard Ops Tactics

Phyken Media hosted a suite this week to show off the latest build of its strategy/action game for mobile platforms, Wizard Ops Tactics. Featuring an interesting variety of characters, a spectacular fantasy setting and plenty of cross-play options through different platforms, it should be a fairly big hit in the months ahead.

But the most curious addition to the game was that of Michael Winslow, the voice effects guru from such movies as Police Academy and Spaceballs. We sat down to chat with him for a few, learning more about the wizard character he's voicing in the game's forthcoming DLC. He then proceeded to… turn us into sheep. Yep, during the vocal interview (which we're still working on), his wizard buddy decided to convert us into sheep. Fortunately, we got changed back in time for the next appointment, but thanks for that, bud…

No Sign of Battlefield 4 Multiplayer

BF

We can't help but wonder if Electronic Arts could've shown us a little more from Battlefield 4. Now, don't get us wrong, the 17 minutes of single-player action were quite fascinating and paint a steady picture of what DICE can do with its awesome Frostbite 3 technology. Then again, why was the focus put on what is considerably the weakest part of Battlefield 3? The story shouldn't take precedence here -- the multiplayer should.

Maybe EA is just trying to vindicate the single-player part of the game by giving it more depth, but to not really say anything about the future of multiplayer -- especially on next-gen consoles -- is going to leave a lot of people hanging. We'll probably learn more at E3, but it would've been nice to learn at least a little something from last week's footage. Like if we're getting Conquest Mode or not…

Adios, David Hayter

Last week was a curious but long-awaited reveal for the folks at Konami and Hideo Kojima Productions, as the famed Metal Gear producer stripped away his mysterious bandages and finally admitted that The Phantom Pain is Metal Gear Solid 5, and Ground Zeroes will be an integral part of that project. Six minutes of footage from the game were then shown, leaving the crowd at the panel in awe.

As great as this news is, one minor change has us concerned. It was revealed during the Game Developers Conference that David Hayter, the long-time voice actor for Solid Snake, would not be making a return. Kojima is instead yearning for a fresh perspective, if you will. Hayter wasn't too happy with the decision, and we can think of a few die-hard fans who aren't too thrilled either. Looks like the end of the road for Snake as we know him.

Let's Hear It For the Little Guys

GDC

The Game Developers Conference isn't just a place for big-name producers to talk about their wares. It's also an ideal spot where up-and-coming independent developers have a chance to shine, whether it's in the IDGA sponsored booth or in the GDC Play room that was right across the way. And in this department, they didn't let us down.

Heavy Gear: Assault was announced, an indie game that utilizes Unreal Engine 4 technology in a pretty good way when it comes to first-person combat. There was also the return of Space Hulk, a franchise that hasn't been given a chance to shine since the 3DO games. And then there were even smaller projects than that, like Eden Industries' innovative RPG, Citizens of Earth, where players recruit citizens around the city to try and help its vice president. We especially liked the mother's delivery of a "scolding" as an attack.  Ha!

Oculus + Hawken= Whoa

GDC

The Oculus VR unit is nothing new to us. We first caught a glimpse of it at PAX Prime last year and were stunned by its delivery, and then saw it again at CES 2013 with a new tech demo on display. But the Game Developers Conference marked the first time we were able to see it in action with a truly throttling experience -- Hawken.

This first-person mech shooter supports 3D -- and the Oculus unit -- through and through, and it developed such a big crowd that there was a line at its booth for hours on end. And for good reason -- the demo is quite sensational, especially when you fly high above the city and then drop right back down at thunderous speed. Here's hoping we see more of it during future trade events, like E3 and, of course, a return to PAX.

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Robert Workman
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Games: Battlefield 4

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